We have been working with budding entrepreneurs in an exciting space to reinvigorate STEM education in rural America. We wanted to share this new (for us) perspective on STEM education needs and opportunities.

We were surprised by what is considered rural. According to the Census Bureau About 60 million people, or one in five Americans, live in rural America. In general, a rural area is a geographic area that is located outside towns and cities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the word rural as encompassing all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area. Whatever is not urban is considered rural.

Many of the 9 million students enrolled in rural schools in the US face barriers to a high quality STEM education. There are shortages of math and science teachers. This in combination with high teacher turnover and few resources further complicates the problem. 

Because STEM education has become so fundamental to success in any industry, finding ways to improve the quality of STEM learning everywhere is of critical importance to educators and policymakers. STEM is growing faster than any other jobs sector, and starting salaries in those jobs are over 30 percent higher than in non STEM jobs.

Two exciting initiatives are offered by EDC or Education Development Center. EDC’s new Rural and Ready STEM initiative, as well as place based education. Place based STEM education takes learning beyond the textbook to the natural environment in your rural area like the seashore, waterways, mountains, grasslands. We believe that global problems like climate change, soil erosion, clean water have local solutions. Place based STEM education brings global problems to real life.

Rural and Ready STEM has three goals: Help rural teachers improve their STEM teaching and learning. Help rural districts support and sustain high quality STEM learning. Use technology to support STEM practice. Distance and digital learning platforms help these goals by providing a connection between teachers and scientists.

Want to learn more Visit EDC.org

There are additional programs and  partnerships with universities such as William & Mary, the Pennsylvania State University, Texas Tech University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Idaho, the University of South Carolina and at other educational institutions and research entities in the US through Community Partnership Research Consortium as well as grant opportunities.