The Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) commits to working with Arthur Waldron Academy to introduce STEM into the school’s curriculum, as a pilot program. DAIC and the school will work together to adapt and introduce a new curriculum that will directly engage 100 students, 25 parents, and ten teachers over the period of one school year and provide all students with access to a STEM-based classroom.
Implementing STEM education is the gateway to unleashing the students’ potential and creating an engaging school climate that epitomizes a definite thrust towards an aggressive promotion of technology and science-based education that responds to the demands of today’s society. First, the team will secure equipment to furnish a STEM-based classroom with desktop computers, a smart television, a smart board, a robotics kit, and iPad tablets. The team will then work to identify lessons from other STEM initiatives, adapt these lessons to create a tailored program, and introduce a curriculum that integrates this access to technology. Once developed, ten mathematics and information technology teachers will be trained to execute this STEM program in their curriculum for 100 students. 25 parents will also be trained on best practices to engage students around STEM learning at home for reinforcement. The curriculum will include student participation in one-to-two science and mathematics fairs, competitions, and robotics camps over the school year.
DAIC will provide ongoing support in seeking sponsorship to finance the equipment for the program, and ensure the team makes valuable connections with others working on STEM initiatives. The program operation will be managed by the school principal, and the school’s Board of Management will maintain the classroom equipment. The intention is that this program will ultimately be replicated through the Ministry of Education for the advancement of the entire educational curriculum in Dominica.
May 2019: Prepare a proposal for funding the STEM initiative; Continue to develop connections with STEM educators to adapt and tailor the pilot STEM curriculum
June – August 2019: Continue to work with funding agencies; Furnish the classroom
August – December 2019: Conduct staff training and introduce the STEM curriculum; Begin parent and stakeholder education in partnership with the parent and teacher association; Continue to secure any needed equipment with the help of funding agencies
January 2020: Teachers continue to use equipment and continue to integrate STEM curriculum
February 2020: Mathematics focus in curriculum via mathematics week activities
March 2020: Continue parent and stakeholder training
April 2020: Host robotics camp where students focus on robotics once a week
May 2020: Host science fair where students integrate their learning in the classroom at the fair
July – August 2020: Host second robotics camp; Review pilot outcomes and assess student, parent and teacher engagement to inform potential for full implementation of pilot
In the midst of dire economic and social difficulties, one of the challenges facing Dominica is the advent of globalization and trade liberalization. As a result, there is a need to boost Dominica’s students’ marketability by helping them to develop the cutting-edge skills which will assist in creating new business opportunities, specifically in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) sector.
Studies have shown that education in science and technology, along with vocational skills, are among the key engines that drive economic recovery and socioeconomic equality. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8% (2016). Additionally, STEM degree holders have a higher income even in non-STEM careers. Given this context, it is important that schools in Dominica provide students with the appropriate training to meet the challenges of an advanced society by enriching the curriculum with computer programming, robotics science, and concepts of entrepreneurship.
Notwithstanding the centrality of science and technology, these principles are deficient in the Dominica school system. Due to several constraints, however, high schools have not been able to provide opportunities for students to be exposed to the cutting edge of technology. Additionally, schools have not been able to provide foundational skills to spark student interest in STEM. Promoting STEM education and learning experiences is one important avenue to ensure that students in Dominica are educated at the highest global standard.
For the success of the program, the team seeks funding and in-kind donation of equipment, as well as STEM curriculum best practices, connections to organizations or individuals with knowledge of STEM and development, and training for teachers in the various areas of STEM.
The team is willing to share learnings from this work with others interested in expanding STEM education.