This book will help you to identify why a STEM identity is important. Chapter 1 asks you to consider your own STEM identity, the forces that crafted it, and your associated beliefs. From there, each chapter will introduce a productive belief about STEM and describe how that belief can be enacted through intentional teacher behaviors and student learning experiences to support learners’ STEM identity development.
While this book is about STEM identity, I use the shorthand “scientist” to refer to one who engages with STEM, since the fields of technology, engineering, and mathematics can all be collected under the banner of science. Science as the overarching heading for the complex and interrelated studies known as STEM was proposed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Project 2061 in their publication Science for All Americans (1989). This interesting resource, which offers an overview of the content and history of scientific endeavor, includes chapters on “The Nature of Science,” “The Nature of Mathematics,” “The Nature of Technology,” and “The Designed World.” So, with no intended disrespect for any of the discrete but interwoven STEM fields, for the purpose of this text, we will call the explorers of each “scientists.”
As I worked to pull the content of this text apart into chapters, I felt as though I were trying to separate one big bowl of spaghetti into separate small portions: all the strands were connected, and when I tried to pull one out alone, I found it tangled up in the rest, all of which wanted to come along. The challenges for you, then, as a reader, will be to patiently savor each portion, or chapter, knowing that it is inextricably linked to all the others in the text. To illustrate this, cross-references are provided throughout, and I made an effort to avoid repetition and redundancy. The good news about this giant portion of spaghetti is that you don’t have to eat it all at once: taking any concept in this book, any chapter, and working to implement those ideas into your planning and instruction will have a ripple effect across all other aspects, catalyzing adjustments at a number of levels. The Appendix in the back offers you some resources that may be helpful as you move forward. Be gentle with yourself as you consider change; begin with something bite-sized, and soon learners’ whole experience might shift.