Bob Abrams is Co-Leader of Indiana STEM Network and recently released a study revealing strategies to better connect in-school and out-of-school learning.
1. What drew you to work in the STEM education field?
Shortly after joining the regional Indiana workforce development initiative, an Indiana University professor of Math Education explained to me that the key to preparing future employees in STEM careers was to make certain that educators knew how to successfully teach math so that elementary school kids don’t lose interest. Her remedy was to train teachers in project-based learning.
This conversation caused the proverbial light bulb to go off in my mind. The linkages between effective STEM learning generating interest and competency in STEM skills and STEM career pathway development became very clear to me.
2. What are you working on for the future for the Ecosystem?
As a state-level ecosystem, our primary area of focus has been in supporting the development and implementation of a state-wide STEM education policy. After 5-6 years of effort on this, real progress has been accomplished during the past 18 months. The Indiana Department of Education is in the process of finalizing a 6-year STEM strategic plan to be presented this autumn to the Indiana legislature. The Indiana STEM Education Taskforce leadership has been consulted by the Indiana Department of Education team throughout the development of the plan, and the whole group recently had the opportunity to vet the plan.
We are also very interested in supporting and expanding the collaboration of in-school and out-of-school STEM learning.
Finally, we are in the very early stages of developing processes to connect students and educators with the resources of experience and expertise offered by the membership of the Indiana STEM Education Taskforce.
3. How are Ecosystems helping solve the employment gap and meet demand for STEM jobs? Or addressing equity and diversity in education?
We are convinced that a well-funded state-wide STEM education policy will provide consistency of opportunity and resources to students in every area of the state. Also, we believe that by building partnerships between in-school and out-of-school programming, the STEM learning day will be expanded and improved for students.
4. Who was a role model for you when you were younger?
It was a long time ago when I was younger. I didn’t really awaken to the necessity and urgency of improved STEM education until I retired from my long career in a STEM industry 10 years ago.
5. What’s the most fun and/or rewarding part of your job?
I have particularly enjoyed and benefited from meeting a lot of smart and innovative people around Indiana and, through the STEM Ecosystem, nationally who are committed to improving the futures of others and their communities.