Fourth Annual Symposium on STEM Education

An annual event hosted by CU’s Science, Technology, Education and Math program brought Google director Scott Green to campus on Monday for a discussion on how elements of the program can fix widespread failures within the education system.

The Fourth Annual Symposium on STEM Education occurred in the club level of Folsom Stadium. Green, whose official title is the Boulder Engineering Site Director for Google, focused on the success that has come from students getting involved fields of STEM.

Google’s Scott Green speaks at the Fourth Annual Symposium on STEM Education in the club level of Folsom Stadium Monday. (CU Independent/Haleema Mian)

STEM at CU works to establish the university as a central portal of research and education reform through various teaching programs from elementary school to college levels.

Green said the education system is much like that of his work environment, with people’s working abilities ranging across a spectrum of performance.

“About 20 percent of my job is managing low performers,” Green said.

He compared this to teaching and said that there is currently too large a disconnect between teachers and struggling students and that more interaction is key to balance within the classroom.

“The concept of encouraging high performance and preventing low performance is kind of too big to ignore,” Green said. “Just plain not right, in my opinion.”

Green said he believes that one common educational focus needs to be developed for school systems nationwide to aim toward and that there should be easier access to education for children who come from an economically unstable background.

“The first problem I think we could make progress on is if we just agreed on a goal,” Green said. “And make it such that a kid who’s growing up in a poorer area has the same access [to that goal].”

Anthony Anglin, 18-year-old freshman aerospace engineering major, agreed with Green’s idea for bettering the education system. He believes that much could be done to improve equality for all students.

“We need to invest in better education programs to promote more people to get involved in teaching, people who are passionate and actually want to teach,” Anglin said. “I think the only way to make that better is to provide equal institutions for all kids.”

Green said there is no shortage of opportunities available and the STEM program will only make it easier for students to become successful in the future.

“There are some really exciting things going on in education nationwide,” Green said.

Bethany Wilcox, 24-year-old junior physics major, was struck by the fact that educational issues are perpetuated by subpar teaching.

“With education, you can learn a lot from the way that the industry judges the quality of its employees,” Wilcox said. “There’s a lot of discussion going on right now about how you judge teacher quality and how you actually measure what makes a good teacher. And that’s a difficult thing to do. We can learn from the industry.”

Green stressed how much power the country has and how each student has the ability to finish his or her education prepared for jobs.

“We’re hiring like crazy in this country, and so [there’s] lots of opportunities,” Green said. “We’re leading the world still. Look at Apple. Apple is leading in consumer devices. These companies are the technology leaders of the world.”

He believes that with technology being such an active part of this new generation’s everyday life, kids should be more willing to participate in the creation of new technologies and STEM-related careers.

“We need kids to hear these messages about how exciting this is,” Green said. “Tell me a kid who doesn’t know Facebook, iPhones. These are the things kids get excited about, so we have a real platform.”

He urged people to work together to educate students and themselves in what is really available for children in the future, especially in relation to STEM.

“I’m not even sure parents realize how many opportunities there are in software, in technology,” Green said. “So I think we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there’s tremendous opportunity, that these jobs are really interesting. That for some, this is the right path.”

Wilcox reflected on Green’s final words, saying she believes STEM is an institution that strives for success, but is curious as to why more people aren’t involved.

“STEM education is a huge thing that the country and the university need to leverage,” Wilcox said. “There’s a lot of call for it in industry, and yet we still see dropping enrollment rates, so I think there’s a problem with STEM education, and we need to figure out what it is. Whether or not this is teaching, I don’t know for sure.”

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Haleema Mian at Haleema.mian@colorado.edu.

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