SALT LAKE CITY — This week, 185 teachers became students themselves. It's part of a $10 million investment to help integrate STEM — which is Science Technology Engineering and Math — training into schools.
"What is being called upon is a well-developed workforce, especially in the STEM industries, and that's why Utah is enrolling right now," said Spencer Eccles from the governor's office of economic development.
STEM is a curriculum that caters to the jobs of tomorrow and Utah lawmakers have taken the first step in helping students become more serious about applying that knowledge. The legislature allocated $10 million to a pilot program to adjust the focus in the classroom and to equip teachers to get it done.
"It's crucial for these students. (They) have to be able to think on their feet be able to apply think outside the box because it's what any job requires nowadays," said Utah teacher Lisa Covert.
It's crucial for these students. (They) have to be able to think on their feet be able to apply think outside the box because it's what any job requires nowadays.
–Utah teacher Lisa Covert
Teachers are getting trained on various programs that involve computer software and that includes individual learning that's backed up with teacher and online support. But it's not doing away with teachers.
"Just because we're placing technology in schools does not replace the teacher, does not replace the parent involvement," said Meredeth Mannebach, Utah's STEM Action Center program manager.
The teachers involved in this pilot program, like Melody Andreason, are enthused about what they'll be bringing their students in this upcoming school year.
"As teachers, yeah, we're asking for more work," Andreason said. "But in the long run, if the students are getting what they need and we're making them more career ready, I'm all about it. Utah teacher David Spencer agrees.
"I'm excited," Spencer said. "I know technology is not going away. It's a main part of our society today and it's only going to get bigger and better."
This pilot program is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to STEM training. They are lessons that add a new dimension to the basic lessons for students.