Despite its impact on various aspects of society, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education have seen an overall decline in the United States during the last two decades. STEM is a pivotal part of the American economy, but student interest and performance in these key subjects is falling. In an effort to ensure that today’s children become tomorrow’s STEM leaders, each state has devised its own initiatives to promote STEM education.
To this end, the state of Georgia has enacted several programs that aim to improve STEM instruction, increase student engagement and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals.
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Improvement Act of 2006 was instituted to help schools develop the academic, technical and professional skills of secondary and postsecondary students. Through the Carl D. Perkins Grant and the Reserve Fund Grant, local education agencies in Georgia were able to apply for money to support STEM education in Georgia public schools. These grants fund the statewide implementation of Georgia’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) STEM Initiatives.
STEM Georgia is an effort by the Georgia Department of Education to prepare students for careers in the competitive workforce of the 21st century by providing them with high quality STEM education. The initiative encourages “a curriculum that is driven by problem solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and student-centered development of ideas and solutions.” STEM Georgia seeks to ensure that all students have access to technological resources, and possess the adequate skills and literacy to use those technologies. The initiative’s website has information on online STEM resources, STEM competitions and the various STEM academies in Georgia. One of STEM Georgia’s newest initiatives is the annual Georgia STEM Festival, which invites students, educators and businesses to reach out to the public and raise STEM awareness.
The Georgia Science Teachers Association is the local chapter of the National Science Teachers Association and serves as a resource for science educators throughout the state. The GSTA hosts an annual conference each February for all those involved in science education to discuss the condition and future of STEM learning in Georgia. GSTA also offers online resources to students and educators, professional development for science teachers, awards and recognitions for students and teachers, and representation in state legislature. A subgroup of the association is the GSSA (Georgia Science Supervisors Association), which is comprised of science educators at the administrative, supervisory and coordinating levels.
The Georgia Science Olympiad is the state division of the Science Olympiad, a national program for enhancing science education and student interest through competition. The Science Olympiad is a science-geared tournament in which teams of up to 15 students compete in 23 science events throughout the day. The tournaments are designed to foster friendly competition, as well as to encourage students to pursue their interest in science learning outside of the classroom. More than 300 schools in Georgia have Science Olympiad programs, making the state's program the 8th largest Science Olympiad in the country.
The University of Georgia in partnership with the University System of Georgia Board of Regents has created the Office of STEM Education. The department arose in response to the state’s growing concern for increasing the quality of STEM education throughout the state. There are three fundamental goals: to increase the number of students who succeed in STEM courses, to increase the number of students who pursue bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields, and to produce qualified math and science teachers to meet the demands for STEM educators in Georgia. By fostering excellence in STEM education at the University, the department hopes to prepare its students to contribute to the quality of STEM education throughout the state.