As fewer students pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), many initiatives have been introduced to develop an interest in these fields at a young age. I have recently learned about three such programs from different parts of the world.
Here in the United States, schools preparing students for the workforce of the future have an exciting new tool: PatentDive Educator, the first curriculum to combine STEM, business, creativity and patent education. The Educator curriculum made its debut at the Future of Education Technology Conference in late January.
New Orleans-based PatentDive is the company behind the new initiative. The curriculum includes lectures, PowerPoints, activities, objectives, group and individual projects, 3D printed files and parts, assessment tools, software licenses and teacher notebooks. Schools can choose from a variety of pre-set curricula variations, or they can choose the PatentDive Educator Entrepreneurial Project, which teaches students how to improve upon an existing technology of their own choosing or turn an individual student’s idea into a reality.
The program aims to make learning joyful, engage students with different learning styles, and help them succeed in STEM industries. The curriculum is adaptable to kids at a wide range of ages and skill sets. Levels vary in terms of complexity and STEM proficiency. The program was developed in collaboration with teachers to support their goals to engage students on real-world issues in STEM.
The European teaching community is also focusing on the scientists of tomorrow. According to an article on www.cmrubinworld.com, an innovative platform in Europe called Scientix supports Europe-wide collaboration among all STEM education and industry professionals, researchers and policymakers. The founders of Scientix built the platform to share best practices and the most up-to-date ideas on STEM. The project, which has around 500 teacher ambassadors from over 38 European countries, supports STEM professionals by organizing workshops, webinars and other activities. The service is available in all official languages in the EU.
According to Dr. Gras-Velazquez, the Science Program Manager of European Schoolnet in charge of the day-to-day management of Scientix, children develop a “fear of science because in the beginning they are not able to grasp the concepts thoroughly.” She adds that the Scientix model works well for all STEM subjects, providing the teachers are happy to work together and build “an active community and explore new methods of teaching.”
Japan is focusing on becoming an intellectual property (IP)-based nation. In 2018, Japan’s patent office issued a paper titled, Education, Dissemination and Raising the Awareness of Intellectual Property in Japan. Several initiatives have recently been enacted toward these efforts, including promotion of education about IP in schools and universities, construction of an educational support system in partnership with local governments and communities, and infrastructure development for IP education and raising awareness.
Developing strong STEM industries and intellectual property benefits countries, communities and the individual alike. According to PatentDive, the U.S. workforce actively rewards people who have patent knowledge, through better opportunities and higher wages. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has found that average weekly wages in IP-intensive industries are 42% higher than in other sectors. In specifically patent-based industries, the wage premium is even higher (73%). And it’s growing.