Are You Curious About STEM?

If you’re curious about STEM education, what it means, and what you should know; you may be interested in our upcoming STEM Network. Read on…

Connect. Explore. Achieve. This two-day, interactive experience will give classroom teachers the opportunity to explore how area businesses use your content areas in industry. Draw connections between what you’ve seen and how you can teach your standards. Develop relevant, real world lessons you can use with your students to help them achieve success. Use group dynamics with like-minded teachers to build engaging content tied to the world of work. Come see what other districts are doing in STEM and imagine what the future can hold for your students. A portion of each event will involve a trip to a local business to observe and glean inspiration from current business practices. Sign up at the Kent ISD PD Hub (search for course number 17CR1101).

Two meetings (2 days each) are planned for the 17-18 School Year:

November 1-2; March 21-22 8am-3pm

Outcomes will include:
Educators will discover resources that can be used in their classroom(s)
Educators are part of a support system that encourages use of discovered resources
Educators consistently connect their classroom content to the world of work; answering the question, “When am I ever going to use this?”


Paperclips- why we need all types of people in STEM fields

I am writing this blog post in response to the paperclips article at K@W 

What if machines become smarter than us? In the article linked above the author discusses the difference between

  • AI- artificial intelligence; and its subcategories
    • ANI- artifical narrow intelligence
    • AGI- artifical general intelligence
    • ASI- artificial super intelligence

We live in a world of  ANI. I have Siri reading me The Essential Drucker on my phone as I drive around to schools these days. I love Siri. However, there are many things technology such as Siri cannot do. Just ask my wife, she hates Siri’s limitations, and finds her useless- fun to watch. Siri is an example of ANI, or artifical narrow intelligence. There are many things Siri cannot do. She does not have general intelligence and cannot do things my 4 year old finds simple such as recognizing a face or even drawing one. The flight management system on an airliner can navigate safely through turbulent weather and even slow the craft to prevent breakup by keeping it within its flight envelope. If, however, it were to be asked to teach my son how to dance at his 1st dance last week, it would return an error. It doesn’t know that, and can’t learn it. Many of our foremost experts believe that artificial general intelligence is not far off, with ASI or super intelligent AI not far behind that- something like 40-60 years out.

Now, why does that matter to our work in STEM education? Simple. We absolutely need people who understand things like ethics, psychology, law, policy, and government to work with people who are developing some of these advanced technologies. These fields aren’t often considered in the STEM world, but we NEED them, and we will continue to need them and will need them more and more. The ethics of how to implement these new technologies are discussions that aren’t going away. Designers and engineers are amazing thinkers in determining answers to questions like, “how can we make this technology…” our ethicists, psychologists, and public policy people will help guide us through questions like, “should we make this, and what musn’t it do…”

I had opportunity to visit two places recently. Our men and women who serve and operate unmanned craft at the Air National Guard base in Battle Creek, MI; and the wonderful students and staff members at White Pines Intermediate School District in Grand Haven, MI. I was presenting drone and unmanned technology to the White Pines students, and they asked me, “Could SkyNet be built?”

I told them it’s kind of already here, then asked them- could your job be to help us figure out how to work with it so we don’t all get turned into paperclips?



Have Fun With Circuits!

Kent ISD has been grant-enabled to develop a library of Little Bits electronics learning tools. Attendees will have fun while experimenting with various circuits, sensors, apps, power sources, and tools to create solutions to modern day problems with these kits.Engage your students in critical thinking, the engineering process, and the internet of things.

Over 100 lessons for classroom use around design thinking, engineering, and core content standards will be shared. Come learn to use this amazing tool, and then use them in your classroom! Sign Up at this link

PS: Tell your admin to relax, we will even pay for the sub!

EQ= Career²

I am writing this article in response to a Wharton article on emotional quotient.

Emotional quotient. As a STEM worker, I didn’t give this much weight in my early career. Numbers. Numbers were the thing. I even teased my then college girlfriend -now wife- for studying this kind of stuff (she was a psych major). Did I ever need to learn a few things.

As a young manager, I found myself struggling to understand why there were various responses to plain operational facts on graphs of operational performance. ” There are the numbers,” I would find myself thinking, “Why is there anything to discuss?” I chuckle now reading that last sentence.

If you are not yet familiar with the concept of EQ, you can, of course, google it. However, here is a definition, “The capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s).”

There is quite a large body of research on this topic, and it all points to the same thing: to have good success in your career, you must have a highly developed EQ. The article from Wharton mentioned at the top of this post is about a book written to help professionals at various levels in their career develop and leverage emotional intelligence.

Why am I discussing this  on our career readiness blog? Because our student’s ability to have a successful career will be influenced by their ability to apply their emotional intelligences to the team environment and workplace they will find themselves in. We all know or have known a jerk or two that we wish we didn’t have to work with. These issues can slow team performance, goal attainment, and ultimately career achievement.

Numbers still matter, but as I matured as a leader and coworker I found myself saying that there are two sides to every job: 1- You have to know the job, the work. People don’t want to do your work for you, or explain it to you for too long. It’s annoying and slows the team down. 2- You have to be a reasonable person. This is the EQ part. No matter how good you are at the work, if everyone thinks you’re a toad, it’ll still be a problem.

How can we create practice environments in our classrooms for students to work on developing these critical skills?  How can your classroom become the one that learners look back on and think, “Man I learned how to do this people thing in so-and-so’s class; and I use it EVERY DAY.”




Rubik’s Cube Problem Solving

I am writing this post while considering the MDE Early Science Career & College Readiness page at this link.

MDE has published seven statements of belief regarding science and literacy instruction. I am going to list belief # 4 here, see the link above for the rest:

  • “Involvement in investigation of natural phenomena and complex problems is important for ALL students.”

I agree with all of the seven statements, but I think they might be readily achieved through statement # 4. We at Kent ISD have defined STEM education as, “The integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to solve real-world industry problems.”

I liken business problems to a Rubik’s cube. Remember those? When I look at the problems that today’s businesses are solving; and hiring people to solve, they involve multiple disciplinary thinking. See my video description of this. Perhaps one would utilize their mathematics skills to work the problem, then begin leveraging their communication skills, then perhaps their research skills, then maybe several skills together. Early exposure to real world problems allow students to grow, I think, into the type of employees, employers, and indeed the type of people we want and need to move our society forward.


STEM Video Library


“Why do I need to know this?” Have your students or children ever asked this type of question? The career readiness department has developed a library of videos that relate the application of classroom content to the adult world of work.

In this YouTube video series Kent ISD Career Readiness gets you in the door of a local business partner to see the real-world application of classroom content. Teachers can use these short videos to reinforce or introduce the standards they need to teach, based on an industry problem.  These videos can help them answer “Why do I have to know this?” These STEM Business Problems Library installments cover everything from basic forces and interactions to advanced electronics, coding, robotics, and much more. Email our STEM consultants at for classroom support or to set up time to shoot a classroom video featuring your company.