STEM is an acronym for the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, commonly used among educators, policy-makers, and government officials. STEM careers are the cornerstone of the 21st century economy. For this reason, STEM is commonly used in reference to our nation’s economic competitiveness and the related need for education programs that prepare and inspire future generations of STEM professionals.
STEM Tutoring is a non-profit organization that seeks to fill the need for STEM education at low performing schools in Austin ISD and around Texas.
To prepare economically disadvantaged, minority, and women students at low performing schools for success in STEM subjects through creative and engaging tutoring experiences.
STEM education is at the forefront of education reform efforts with initiatives like Educate to Innovate and Change the Equation—initiatives designed to encourage public and private investment in STEM education programs across the country and to prepare and inspire future generations of STEM professionals.
See “The Problem” and “The Solution” pages for more information from recent publications and reports on the declining state of STEM education in the U.S. and what STEM Tutoring is doing to address the issue.
Our nation is at a tipping point. We are in danger of losing our position as the global leader in scientific discoveries and technological innovation.
In September 2010, the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its “Report to the President” on the future of STEM education- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics- in America. The PCAST report cited numerous statistics as evidence of the current unacceptable state of STEM education in the U.S., such as:
- In 2009, just 34 percent of U.S. 8th graders were rated proficient or higher in a national math assessment, and more than one in four scored below the basic level.
- In an international exam given in 2006, U.S. high school students ranked 21st out of 30 industrialized nations in science and 25th in math.
- Only 43 percent of U.S. high school graduates in 2010 were ready for college work in math and 29 percent were ready in science.
According to ChangtheEquation.com (a public-private collaborative project encouraging private companies like Time Warner Cable and Exxon-Mobil to invest in STEM education),
“Adding to these problems is the fact that math in our country suffers from an image problem. In a recent poll, more than half of Americans aged 18 to 34 admitted that they often say they can’t do math. Nearly a third said they would rather clean the bathroom than solve a math problem.”
For the past few decades, the American education system allowed a gradual decline in STEM education. Students lack inspiration to strive for success and are severely underperforming and underprepared in STEM subjects.
How can our country claim to be the world’s leader in technological innovation, engineering feats, and scientific breakthroughs if we are not graduating STEM literate students? If America is going to tackle the big issues of our time like green energy solutions, communications needs, and global poverty/health/hunger, we need students with strong foundations in STEM who are inspired to change the world.
One of PCAST’s recommendations for improving STEM education is supporting “high-quality STEM-based after-school and extended day activities.”
See “The Solution” for what STEM Tutoring and others are doing to answer this call.
“STEM education is an economic imperative. Experts say that technological innovation accounted for almost half of U.S. economic growth over the past 50 years, and almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some background in STEM.”—PCAST “Report to the President”, September 2010
As our country becomes increasingly dependent on a STEM-literate workforce, we believe it is imperative that our nation moves quickly to improve STEM education and recapture the interest and imaginations of students. One of the ways the PCAST report recommends improving STEM education is by “supporting high-quality STEM-based after school and extended day activities.”
STEM Tutoring seeks to answer this call by giving middle and high school students access to free before and after school STEM tutoring with highly-qualified instructors. We believe giving students daily opportunities to receive extra time, attention, and guidance with their school work is key to empowering students to succeed.
But we’re not only seeking to improve student performance in STEM classes. We want to inspire students to pursue STEM careers by serving as a bridge that connects community professionals—scientists, engineers, professors, architects, computer engineers, doctors, bankers, etc.—with students through volunteer tutoring/mentoring opportunities, as well as interactive STEM projects.
What We Offer:
- Free before and after school small group STEM tutoring
- Free access to highly qualified educators trained in research-based instruction
- Free access to a rich, interdisciplinary, STEM curriculum
- Free access to STEM professionals in the community who volunteer their time to tutor, mentor, make presentations about their careers, and lead engaging/creative STEM-based group projects.
We believe education reform must be a collaborative effort, involving students, teachers, parents, administrators, community organizations and businesses–all striving to make a positive impact, one student at at time.
We need your involvement, whether its time, money, or collaboration to continue serving students and preparing them for academic and professional success.
See our “Get involved” page for more details on how you can participate in STEM Tutoring.
Josh Harris | President, Co-Founderjosh@stemtutoring.org
I graduated from Abilene Christian University in 2006 with a B.S. in Integrated Marketing and Communications (Public Relations) and a B.A. in Religious Texts. In the fall of 2006 to January 2008, I worked for a startup education company in Dallas that was started by a high school friend and funded by my dad as a Program Coordinator and Marketing Director. In the spring of 2008, I moved to Austin from Dallas and started the Committee for the Equal Distribution of Information, a Supplemental Educational Services (SES) tutoring company with the goal of improving performance on Math and Science scores in Texas schools.
Over three years, the company grew to 45 employees and served more than 500 students in Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso.In the summer of 2010, I co-founded STEM Tutoring with some of the staff from my previous venture, a 501(c)(3) non-profit tutoring company with the same goal- prepare and inspire economically disadvantaged Texas students to pursue high end careers in the 21st century economy.
Daniel Wheeler | Executive Director, Co-Founderdan@stemtutoring.org
I graduated from Abilene Christian University in 2008 with a B.A. in English Teaching and an M.A. in Composition. Throughout my tenure at ACU I participated various tutoring, mentoring, and teaching experiences, from the middle school to collegiate level, and I discovered a simple (but often unrealized) truth in education: students learn best when given adequate time and attention. Throughout college I developed a particular love of working with students in one-on-one or small group settings where I could witness closely the transformation that occurs when students “get it”—when they realize they have the capacity to succeed. After graduate school I moved to Austin, TX, and from 2008-2010 I worked as the campus director of a Supplemental Education Provider (SES) at Lanier High School, where I managed a team of tutors that worked with hundreds of economically disadvantaged students in Math and Science. I saw the effectiveness of the afterschool model of education in which students have a “fail-safe” space to receive that extra time and attention they need to succeed.
In August 2010 I became a co-founder of STEM Tutoring Foundation with Josh Harris, Justin Wiseman, and Andy Smith because we wanted to have the ability to partner with a wider array of organizations and corporations to prepare and inspire students to pursue STEM careers. While our country has neglected STEM education for the past several decades, I feel there is a new push and sense of urgency to reclaim America’s position as a world-leader in scientific breakthroughs and technological innovation. I am excited to contribute what little I can to the education of America’s next generation of STEM professionals.
Justin Wiseman | Program Director, Co-Founderjustin@stemtutoring.org
I graduated with a B.S. of Mathematics Teaching at Abilene Christian University, where I participated in a variety of contexts of math education in college, including private tutoring, charitable tutoring, assisting professors, and student teaching, and became certified to teach secondary mathematics in Texas. It was obvious to me early on in his studies and experiences that math education in America is in a poor state. My experience in college of working with a college prep program for potential first generation college students (Upward Bound) inspired me to use my abilities to work with underserved students in low-performing schools, with high populations of economically disadvantaged students. My goal in working with STEM Tutoring is for our services to inspire our students to succeed academically in STEM disciplines as well as recognize and pursue the multitude of possible career opportunities in these disciplines. I am also very excited about our company being able to help facilitate relationships with corporations whose business is in STEM fields and low performing schools, which I think will help enrich the community in which I live.
I also am a musician in a touring rock band called The Rocketboys, which was formed in college at ACU. I am always amused at students’ (often surprised) reactions when they find out their nerdy math tutor plays keyboard in a rock n roll band!
Andy Smith | Creative Director, Co-Founderandy@stemtutoring.org
I began studying Graphic Design in 2002 while at Abilene Christian University. During this time, I was a Production Assistant at Zachry Associates, Inc., a design firm located in the only building in town with more than four stories. I graduated with a BFA in 2006 and moved to Philadelphia to seek my fortune.While in Philadelphia I began working as a freelance designer for various smaller clients. I also worked for A Silence Productions, a record label based in Texas, designing and illustrating posters, album art, and other music-related ephemera. In 2008 I moved to Austin, TX to seek a new fortune. I continued freelance work and kept busy for the most part. I began working with the Committee for the Equal Distribution of Information in 2008, an SES Tutoring Service, focusing primarily on branding and web development. I was responsible for creating a brand identity as well as setting up and designing an online student education portal with Moodle—an open-source learning platform.
In the summer of 2010 I began work on branding for STEM Tutoring, as well as developing a complete overhaul for their website. The site is still in progress, and will act not only as an education platform for students, but a hub of STEM-related news and fresh ideas concerning the future of STEM education in America. I’m excited to be a part of the STEM Tutoring team, and look forward to using my skills to help the organization continue making a positive impact in AISD.