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Ann Woo on the Lingering Impact of COVID-19 on STEM Education in American Classrooms

6/26/2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on STEM education in the U.S., leading to a quiet crisis in classrooms. The shift to remote learning disrupted traditional lab work and left teachers struggling to adjust their programs to engage anxious and isolated students. As a result, many STEM educators have left the profession, exacerbating the existing shortage of STEM teachers in the country. A recent Samsung Solve for Tomorrow survey found that a significant numbers of STEM teachers feel “underpaid” (41%) or “burned out” (26%), while more than two-thirds of educators (65%) said that their school is experiencing a shortage of STEM faculty, with 13% calling it “severe.”

In a June byline in Fast Company, Ann Woo, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America who oversees Samsung Solve for Tomorrow, an innovation driver that fosters creativity and problem-solving skills among public middle and high school students through annual STEM competitions, shared her thoughts on how to address these challenges and revitalize STEM education in three steps.

strawberry-crest-high-school-solve-for-tomorrow-stem-expo

  1. The first step is to identify opportunities in the local community for students to apply their STEM skills to real-world problems. Science and STEM competitions organized by industry players, trade groups, and educational institutions can provide platforms for students to showcase their creativity and contribute to their communities.
  2. The second step is to participate in volunteer or mentorship programs where employees can provide expertise in practical problem-solving to students.
  3. The third step involves supporting initiatives that expand the use of new STEM learning tools and professional development programs for STEM teachers.

Woo concludes, “Scaling these positive benefits to improve STEM education is a personal goal of mine—but I can’t do it alone. It requires that everyone everywhere who is counting on STEM education to maintain a healthy STEM workforce keep listening to what STEM educators have to say. We need to honor and celebrate STEM teachers just as we have the health care professionals who got us through the days of overflowing COVID wards. If we fail at that, we risk someday having no next-gen STEM practitioners to help us innovate.”

Read Ann Woo’s full Fast Company article here: https://www.fastcompany.com/90907973/covid-isnt-over-for-americas-classrooms-especially-in-stem-learning-but-we-can-fix-that

(NOTE: Entries will open for the 14th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM competition by September 2023. Visit Samsung.com/Solve for more information.)

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