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NY makes moves to improve STEM education

President Barack Obama has proclaimed that STEM education is a national priority.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

New York state is looking at ways to improve the STEM education the state's children receive. This kind of education has  become more important in recent years, because that's where the jobs are. However, recent statistics show U.S. achievement in these skills lags behind much of Europe and Asia.

The issue, as New York State Education Commissioner John King notes, is that these classes can be a hard sell to kids.

"Sometimes students don't realize how fun and interesting STEM classes can be. So one of the challenges is to make sure that students see that math and science courses can be hands-on and engaging," said King.

King says one way to do that is helping teachers learn more ways to teach the material. That's what is driving a new summer professional development program for teachers this year, funded through federal race to the top dollars.  

Syracuse School Superintendent Sharon Contreras says almost two dozen city teachers have already signed up.

"Professional development in the STEM areas will result in courses that are more engaging. I believe students will be encouraged and motivated to take more science classes, technology classes, engineering classes and advance math classes,"  said Contreras.

New York state is also considering a STEM pathway to graduation that would require those students to take more STEM courses.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.