Can STEM expand the curriculum?

An article in US News last week makes an interesting observation: while computer scientists are in high demand and computer science is an engaging and pedagogically rich subject area – only 9 states allow a computer science course to meet core math / science requirements for graduation. I couldn’t help but make a leap to wonder if photonics, another high demand, engaging and pedagogically rich subject area would fare even that well. My attempts to get an actual number are underway.

Meanwhile, this raises the overarching question of just how extensively STEM can and/or will transform the high school curriculum. Physics, chemistry and biology, as well as the standard roster of math classes have been a deeply embedded anchor of american education forever. This siloed structure for education poses one of the greatest obstacles to the (not so new) call for integration of the disciplines, the addition of engineering, a problem based/hands on approach, and attention to producing a workforce for an ever more technology based economy. While I doubt anyone thinks we need to throw the baby out with the bath water by relieving ourselves entirely of the disicplines, organizing teaching and learning around topics such as computer science and photonics offers a mechanism well suited to crossover between silos and the addition of new content and processes, all while engaging students in the future they will create.

Its possible we’ll be seeing quite a lot more computer science, photonics and other new and exciting course offerings before long.