The Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub came into existence under the Tennessee First to the Top Project. The Hub was originally managed by Metro Nashville Public Schools and moved to the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in 2016. The Hub works to connect STEM activities across the midstate region and provides professional development for STEM teachers.
The Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub acknowledges the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in our everyday lives. Our world and lives are permeated by STEM, and its impact is immeasurable.
The ubiquitous nature of STEM makes literacy in STEM matters more important than ever. STEM participation helps students acquire skills that are important to their future success in post-secondary studies and careers, as well as in their everyday lives. The Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub is dedicated to helping teachers develop students who can think critically and creatively, who can find innovative solutions to problems, and who can work collaboratively and communicate their ideas clearly.
In order to prepare students for successfully negotiating the world of study and work, STEM education has proven to be one of the best ways to engage students in learning that is rigorous and relevant to their lives. Multiple studies have demonstrated the connection between high expectations and connecting learning to issues close to students’ lives. Students are less likely to have behavioral issues and more likely to improve overall achievement when they are given original problems and projects. When intellectually challenged to find solutions, students internalize learning and are more capable of transferring knowledge to new situations.
As a means to support rigorous and relevant STEM learning, the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub acknowledges the importance of bringing business and community partners into conversation with K-12 schools to form purposeful relationships that will offer students and teachers the opportunity to experience real-world work situations that demonstrate the importance of both rigor and relevance to the work done in the classroom.
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is one of the most frequently cited methodologies for teaching STEM in K-12 schools. It requires teachers to work together to create meaningful interdisciplinary curriculum that will evoke the rigor and relevance so important to student success. School leaders at all levels must understand these concepts and promote their adoption in schools in order to fully transform education for the 21st century.