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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Awakening Your STEM School | Dr. Aaron L. Smith

Genre: Non-fiction—Education
Number of Pages: 222
Perspective: First and third
Location: Coastal Virginia

Awakening Your STEM School is a book of ideas, examples, and tools for successfully running a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math education) school. Its main focus is preparing students to work in those fields. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I want to tell you all a little background about myself before I review this book. I actually live very close to the STEM school featured in this book in Coastal Virginia. I just recently moved here, but it is already very easy to why a STEM school would perform exceptionally well here. We have Navy bases with tons of Navy ships, plus large jets flying overhead, nearby airports, many science-related museums, crazy underwater tunnels, and an engineer's paradise. We actually moved here because my husband got a job working at an engineering firm. 

My background is in early childhood education, so I am not an expect in high school STEM, but I do know the importance of actual experiences as a learning process (versus reading textbooks and listening to lectures). So any time a school can provide hands-on experiences, it is sure to be a memorable learning event. I won’t get into the politics regarding magnet schools, but I can see how a school like this would be great for students who maybe didn’t feel like a great student in elementary school. Literacy is the main focus in the early years of education, so students who have more logical and mathematical minds, tend to feel like poorer students. So it is wonderful that a STEM school can give all the practical and logical students skills that are applicable in many high demand careers. 

Now back to the book itself. There are some personal narratives in this story, which tie everything together, but aren't the strong part of this book. The writing isn’t as remarkable as most books, however, to meet my point from above, this is someone with a math and science mindset, not a reading and writing mindset. So I can’t really discredit the book for that. 

The book is meant for business leaders who have a STEM high school, and there are definitely some tips that would only help those people (i.e. some of the business tips and marketing strategies). However, there are many ideas and examples that would work in any classroom, even at an elementary level. Some examples are: providing hands-on activities and bringing in community members that work in a STEM field. I also like how they give examples of how to be more efficient in your teaching and planning. There are also some great ideas about planning a successful STEM event at your school (which could really be applicable to any field of study). 

Some of the tips were a little vague and could have given a more thorough explanation, but most were very detailed and provided real world examples for implementation. There are also many specific suggestions for apps and websites that will help in incorporating STEM into classrooms. I think the only other thing that I wish was provided is a couple of detailed lesson plans to use. Overall, it was very informative and provided a lot of information for teachers, administrators, and STEM community members looking to get more involved in their local schools.

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

  4/5 Stars

*****

o Amber Gregg


*Disclaimer: I received compensation for reviewing this book, but it did not impact my review in any way.*









Also, check out Dr. Aaron Smith's post about using blogs in the classroom!







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