Resources for Current & Future STEM Educators
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It’s not too often that you have the opportunity to change the world, but as a STEM educator, you can do just that. By encouraging students to develop and maintain interest in STEM subjects, you’re preparing the next generation of researchers, engineers, scientists and programmers to meet the growing demands for qualified STEM professionals—and preparing future professionals in all fields to leverage STEM approaches and techniques.
As more public and private organizations recognize that STEM educators play a key role in increasing the number of students pursuing STEM careers, they have developed a wide range of resources to train, support and inspire current and prospective STEM educators. Use the table of contents below to jump right to the resources you’re looking for!
Table of Contents
What Is STEM Education?
STEM education includes the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Teachers deliver STEM education across all grade levels, from preschools to post-doctorate, in a wide range of settings that include traditional classrooms, distance learning, and informal non-credit programs.
Rather than teaching each of the STEM subjects separately, incorporating STEM into the curriculum allows educators to show students how these subjects are related, not only to each other, but to nearly every subject and discipline. Using a STEM approach challenges educators to offer students experiences that are hands-on, collaborative and open-ended, so they can apply the knowledge and techniques they learn throughout their lives.
The challenge for STEM educators is to present lessons in a way that allows students to see how STEM concepts relate to everyday life. At all levels, STEM education increasingly involves incorporating real-life scenarios into the curriculum. This approach is designed to take STEM subjects out of textbooks and incorporate them into hands-on, multi-dimensional learning experiences.
Why STEM Education Is Important
As more aspects of daily life are tied to technology, the need to improve and expand STEM education across the curriculum will only get more pressing.
Without enough STEM educators, students can’t get access to the types of STEM opportunities that are likely to encourage long-term interest and passion in these fields and beyond. As more aspects of daily life are tied to technology-based systems, the need to improve and expand STEM education is considered key to helping the United States remain a world leader and maintain a competitive edge in the 21st century.
With more emphasis on STEM education, a meaningful STEM curriculum is often introduced to the youngest students, beginning at the preschool level. Research confirms that exposing students to STEM experiences at a young age encourages critical thinking skills, increases science literacy, and fosters creative problem solving. These experiences can help establish a long-term passion for STEM subjects, as well as general academic success across all disciplines.
How to Become a STEM Teacher
There are many paths to pursuing a STEM teacher career. While specific requirements vary by state, the traditional path for a STEM teacher includes graduation from a teacher preparation program at an accredited college or university that includes:
- Completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher
- Specific courses in education
- Student teaching experience
- Passing a teaching certification exam
The type of college degree you require will depend on where and what you want to teach:
- At the preschool or kindergarten level, you may qualify to teach STEM subjects with a degree in early childhood education
- To teach elementary students, the requirement is typically a degree in elementary education
- To teach middle school or high school-level STEM subjects, it’s likely that you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in education with a concentration in the specific STEM subject that you intend to teach
If you want to become a teacher and have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM subject, you can also pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching degree to gain classroom training and get qualified to take your teacher certification exam.
Why Earn Your Master’s Degree?
If you’re currently working as a teacher but want to move beyond standard classroom curriculum into the exciting realm of Science, Technology, Education, and Math (STEM), you’ll be preparing to teach for an innovative technology-driven world. Earning your master’s degree can equip you with the skills required to meet the challenges facing STEM educators as they help students understand the importance of STEM in their daily lives.
Here are more great reasons to earn your master’s degree:
- You’ll improve your classroom skills.
- You can move into administrative and leadership roles.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says teachers with a master’s degree not only earn more than those with a bachelor’s, but are more employable. Consider this: Education administrators with a master’s earned $23,000 more annually, while secondary school teachers with a master’s earned an average of $11,000 more annually. The ratio of employed administrators with a master’s was 46% as opposed to 23% employment with a bachelor’s.
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To increase the number of STEM educators, many states also offer alternative programs that allow STEM professionals to fast track into positions as STEM educators. Requirements for non-traditional STEM teacher training typically includes a bachelor’s degree in a STEM subject and work experience in a STEM career. Career coaching and teacher mentoring help guide non-traditional participants into their new roles as STEM educators.
Check out these resources:
Ensure that you’re on the right path to achieving your goals by exploring state teacher certification requirements with this interactive tool.
Locate a UTeach university in your state. UTeach is an innovative, university-based teacher preparation program for secondary school STEM teachers. The UTeach model combines STEM degrees with teacher certification in a four-year plan.
Scholarships for Future STEM Educators
A wide range of national, regional and local organizations offer scholarship opportunities for both prospective and current STEM educators. Find out if you’re eligible to apply for any of these valuable financial awards.
American Chemical Society (ACS) Teacher Scholarships
The ACS-Hach scholarships are awarded in three categories. Scholarships are available to undergraduate chemistry majors, chemistry professionals changing to teaching careers and recent chemistry graduates pursuing a master’s degree in education or certification in chemistry. All scholarship candidates must be committed to teaching high school chemistry.
Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) STEM Teacher Scholarships
The AFCEA Educational Foundation offers competitive-based scholarships to students actively pursuing a credential/licensure or graduate degree for the purpose of teaching STEM subjects in grades K-12 in the United States.
Barbara Lotze Scholarships for Future Teachers
Aspiring physics teachers are eligible to apply for this scholarship sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Executive Board. Applications are open to high school graduates and college undergraduates preparing to work as high school physics educators.
Calvin Secondary Science Education Scholarship
Current students at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan can apply for the Calvin Secondary Science Education Scholarship. Applicants must be pursuing a degree in Secondary Science Education.
Frank Pennington Memorial Scholarship
Students at California State University, Chico are eligible to apply for the Frank Pennington Memorial Scholarship if they are pursuing a degree with the goal of teaching math or science.
Grace Ohrtman Endowed Scholarship
Qualified candidates must attend the University of Northern Iowa, intend to teach science in Iowa for at least three years after graduation and be science teaching majors.
Gary and Myrna Floyd Endowed Scholarship
Applicants must be current senior students at the University of Northern Iowa majoring in biology or science education.
Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship
About 35 teaching fellowships are awarded annually to current early-career math and science teachers. The five-year fellowship provides financial support, mentoring and community building with other STEM educators.
Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers
Administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), up to 25 awards are given to NSTA members who are K-12 science teachers with fewer than five years of teaching experience. The award allows recipients to attend the National Conference on Science Education.
MSTI Future Math/Science Teacher Scholarship
The Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI) at California State University, Chico awards a scholarship to students interested in pursuing teaching careers in math or science.
NAGT-FWS Geoscience Teaching Scholarships
The National Association of Geoscience Teachers – Far Western Section (NAGT-FWS) awards scholarships to full-time students at accredited universities in California, Hawaii and Nevada who plan to teach geoscience in secondary schools.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
This national organization offers 29 specialized grants and scholarships to current and prospective math educators for the purpose of helping them become the best math teachers possible.
Oklahoma Future Teachers Scholarship Program
Eligible applicants include Oklahoma residents willing to commit to teaching in a critical teacher shortage area, including science education, for a minimum of three years in Oklahoma public schools upon graduation.
Paul E. Klinge Science Scholarship
Applications are open to undergraduate students at Indiana University – Bloomington who plan to pursue a career in science education.
Robert Noyce Scholarship in Science
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), this scholarship is awarded to junior and senior-level students majoring in the STEM fields who plan to work as STEM educators in grades K-12. For each year of support, recipients are obligated to teach for two years in high need school districts. At the graduate level, the program supports NSF Teaching Fellows and NSF Master Teaching Fellows to encourage individuals with strong STEM backgrounds to pursue teaching careers.
Paul G. Hewitt Scholarship for Future High School Physics Teachers
Current undergraduate students at California State University, Chico are eligible if their career goal is to teach physics to high school students.
SPS Future Teaching Scholarship
Administered by the Society of Physics Students (SPS), this award is given to an SPS member enrolled in a teacher preparation program with the objective of teaching physics.
STEM certification isn’t a requirement to teach as a STEM educator. While there is no national professional certifying organization for STEM educators, you can earn this credential from a private organization. To some prospective employers, STEM teaching certification demonstrates your commitment to STEM education and your pursuit of excellence as an educator in these subjects.
National Institute for STEM Education (NISE)
NISE is a private education organization that offers competency-based certification and graduate programs leading to the achievement of the National Certificate for STEM Teaching.
The Future of STEM Education
According to a report by education analysts at ACT, the national college entrance examination, meeting the needs of STEM education will be challenging in the future. Based on questionnaires administered as part of the college exam, only 5,839 of the 970,532 STEM-interested students who took the ACT planned to pursue a career in math or science education. That is just over one-half of one percent.
Organizations such as 100Kin10 have made gains. In 2018, this group claimed to have recruited over 54,000 new STEM educators, more than half of the 100,000 needed by 2021. Their success included partnering with schools, businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to alleviate the challenges that interfere with recruiting and retaining STEM educators. Recognizing that STEM education is an issue for schools, communities and businesses increases the opportunities for educator support.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education joined with the American Institutes for Research to convene with leaders in education and the STEM fields to draft a vision for U.S. STEM education, titled, “STEM 2026.” The report recognized that students who graduate with strong STEM experiences throughout their education will develop the skills and thought processes necessary to succeed in the jobs of the future.
STEM 2026 initiated a vision to provide all U.S. students with quality STEM education. Flexible learning spaces that allow for accessible learning activities were determined to be key to implementing quality STEM curriculum. Other factors such as the support of engaged school communities and the promotion of diversity in STEM fields also were emphasized for meeting the demand of future STEM education.
STEM Resources for Current and Future Educators
As a current or future STEM educator, you have access to a virtually limitless number of resources to achieve your professional goals. A wide range of public and private organizations offer opportunities related to education, financial support, professional development, and curriculum planning. In addition, you can find camaraderie and support from like-minded education professionals via online STEM communities.
Online STEM Courses for Teachers
In response to the national challenge to increase the number of qualified STEM educators, many educational organizations facilitate the process by offering convenient online STEM courses for teachers. Online offerings include degrees as well as individual courses that can help current STEM teachers review or refine their knowledge of specific topics or prospective teachers satisfy degree or licensure requirements.
Before you commit time and money to enroll in an online STEM course, it’s key to ensure that the course content will meet your needs. Many colleges and universities offer free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These can offer valuable opportunities to experience classes from leading institutions for free. However, if you’re enrolling in a MOOC, it’s important to understand what you will, and won’t, gain from the experience. Few MOOCs are transferable for college credit because most are designed to be student-regulated with regard to attendance, completion of the course and mastery of the material.
If you’re planning to use an online course toward a degree requirement, check with the advisor at your college or university to ensure the online course will be accepted. If you’re using the course for enrichment, seek out user reviews and background information to ensure that it will be a quality experience.
Class Central is a worldwide search engine for all types of MOOCs, including over 75 related to STEM and STEM education. User reviews are posted when available.
EdX is a joint nonprofit venture by Harvard University and MIT that offers online courses and MOOCs. Choices include online post-graduate certificates and degrees for career advancement as well as individual STEM-related courses.
Endeavor STEM Teaching Certificate Project
This certificate includes a three or five-course live, online graduate-level curriculum based on work supported by NASA. Graduates earn a NASA Endeavor Leadership Certificate in STEM Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
National STEM Learning Centre
Based at the University of York, the National STEM Learning Centre offers online activities and learning resources to support STEM educators. In addition to online courses for educators, the Centre facilitates support among STEM educators worldwide through its online community.
New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning
This nonprofit offers online courses for STEM educators to learn teaching methods and ways to effectively teach specific concepts in math, chemistry and physics. Courses can be applied toward a master’s degree or New Jersey state subject endorsements.
Classroom Resources, Activities and Lesson Plans
Explore inspiring and innovative online classroom resources, activities and lesson plans for teaching STEM to all grade levels. Most are tested and available for free.
The Concord Consortium
A helpful “STEM Resource Finder” filters scientifically accurate models and activities by STEM discipline, resource type and grade level. Educators can choose from options for students ranging from elementary to higher education grade levels.
NASA Kids Club
NASA Kids Club is a safe online destination for children pre-K through grade 4 to learn about NASA and its mission. Descriptions indicate how each game aligns with National Education Standards to assist STEM educators.
Targeted to elementary school age students, The Space Place aims to convey that learning about science and technology can be exciting and engaging. The site is directed to students, but it is filled with hands-on projects, activities, games, puzzles, and photos that can be used in the classroom.
Nancy Clark’s Awesome Science Teacher Resources
With 37 years of teaching experience, veteran educator Nancy Clark shares materials and resources for middle school and high school science teachers. Her extensive offerings include activities, worksheets, tests, laboratory exercises, and links to useful web pages.
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
With a section titled, “Freebies for Science Teachers,” the NSTA offers a wide array of free resources for you and your classroom. With a searchable database back to 2006, you’re sure to find something that aligns with your current science curriculum or helps you lead your students toward a new adventure.
PBS Learning Media
PBS Learning Media offers free resources searchable by subject, grade level and resource type. Science and math resources provide numerous options for introducing STEM concepts via a wide range of platforms for students from K-12.
Don’t underestimate the value of Pinterest boards for having innovative STEM resources. Search by STEM topic, and you’re likely to find several helpful options.
This website from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offers reviewed teaching tools, lesson plans, interactive lessons, podcasts, and hands-on activities for K-12 educators. All of these free resources are designed to be used in a variety of formats and classroom settings.
Teaching Advanced Physics (TAP)
This website offers detailed ideas and resources for educators teaching physics to students between the ages of 16 and 19 years. Lesson plans and activities are offered for topics such as electricity, mechanics, vibrations, and waves.
United States Navy
The United States Navy “Stem for the Classroom” is targeted to help students in 9-12 explore STEM concepts. The multi-platform resources are standards-aligned and interactive. Subjects range from the physics of flight to engineering.
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Diversity in STEM
As a current or prospective STEM educator, you can make a significant contribution toward increasing diversity in the STEM fields. In 2018, a study by the Pew Research Center reported that, while women made up about half of all employees in STEM occupations, their presence varied widely across specific occupational roles and educational levels. Though women comprised the majority of healthcare technicians and practitioners, they were underrepresented in engineering and computer-related positions.
While women have made progress in areas related to the life and physical sciences, their representation in computer occupations, an area where the most job growth is expected, is actually on the decline, with a decrease of seven percent since 1990.
African Americans and Hispanic Americans also are underrepresented in STEM occupations, according to the Pew report. While African Americans comprise about 11 percent of U.S. workers, they represent only about seven percent of STEM workers. Similarly, Hispanics account for 16 percent of the U.S. workforce, but only seven percent of all STEM workers. When reviewed by occupation, African Americans and Hispanics, like women, were overrepresented in lower-paying STEM occupations.
As a STEM educator, you can make a difference by encouraging female and minority students to pursue the most in-demand and lucrative STEM occupations. Here are a few of the resources for insight and support for diversity in STEM:
Black Women in STEM
This online community for Black women in STEM offers a space for connection and professional mentorship, while working to encourage more Black women to pursue STEM occupations.
Gates Millennium Scholars
The Gates Millennium Scholars program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, promotes academic excellence and opportunities for outstanding minority students by reducing the financial barriers that interfere with their reaching their highest potential. The program supports the inclusion of African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students in STEM-related disciplines, where these groups are underrepresented.
Girls in Tech
This global nonprofit centers on the engagement, education and empowerment of women in technology and entrepreneurship. For STEM educators, the site offers insights into ways you can help girls find and retain their place in STEM fields.
IGNITE Worldwide (Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution)
This national nonprofit organization concentrates on educating and inspiring girls to pursue careers in STEM fields. IGNITE works with teachers to help increase interest and participation in computer science and engineering classes for girls.
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)
Through partnerships with corporations and educational institutions, NACME works to increase the representation of African American, American Indian and Hispanic men and women in STEM occupations. The group administers institutional grants, individual student scholarships, resources, and opportunities to increase diversity in the field of engineering.
National Association of Multicultural Engineering (NAMEPA)
NAMEPA provides training opportunities for K-12 students, teachers and counselors, as well as other education professionals, to help them increase diversity in the STEM fields. The organization also supports students through scholarships and other educational programs.
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
NSBE works to increase the number of Black Engineers and technical professionals who work in the fields of technology and engineering. NSBE sponsors scholarships, competitions and summer engineering experiences for students.
Women in STEM
Women in STEM celebrates and promotes the accomplishments of women who work in STEM fields. The group works to make women in STEM more visible to the public, promote STEM careers for women and work toward solutions to make STEM more inclusive.
Grants and Financial Resources
You can pursue several options to pay for tuition and other educational expenses if you need assistance in bridging the gap between your available financial resources and the money you need to complete your degree or educational program. As a current or prospective STEM educator, you may benefit from the fact that your skills will be in high demand, especially in underserved or rural areas. As a result, many school districts may offer financial incentives for a commitment to teach at their location for a specified period of time.
If you incur traditional student loan debt in pursuit of your education, you may qualify for state or federal loan forgiveness programs, depending on your location and place of employment. Qualifications for loan forgiveness programs vary and typically apply after a period of full-time employment.
There also are opportunities for current STEM educators to apply for funding related to professional development and classroom initiatives.
Fund for Teachers
The Fund for Teachers supports educators in developing knowledge, skills and confidence to have a more meaningful impact on their students. The organization also awards summer fellowship grants to individual teachers who want to pursue self-designed learning opportunities. Candidates must have a minimum of three years’ teaching experience.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Study & Active Professionalism Grants
The purpose of this NCTM grant is to provide financial support for teachers in grades PreK – 8 who want to improve their appreciation and understanding of mathematics for the purpose of teaching in the classroom. The grant supports the pursuit of advanced degrees.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program
This form of federal student aid forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Student Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments toward the balance. To receive this benefit, you must be working full-time for a qualifying nonprofit or government agency, which includes schools.
State-Sponsored Loan Forgiveness Programs
Contact your state department of education to find out if you qualify for a state-sponsored student loan forgiveness program. Many states offer student loan forgiveness programs to teachers who commit to teaching in their state for a specified period of time. While program terms and availability vary by state, the good news is that many programs favor educators qualified to teach subjects for which there is a teacher shortage, such as STEM subjects. It’s important to contact your state directly since annual changes in state budgets may affect the terms and availability of these programs.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH)
TEACH grants provide annual payments to students who are completing coursework for a teaching career. TEACH grants only are available for specific degrees at the U.S. colleges and universities that participate in the TEACH program. Recipients must be committed to teaching in a high-need field such as mathematics, science or one that is identified for your employing school.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program rewards teachers who have taught for a minimum of five years in a low-income school or social service agency with loan forgiveness up to $17,500 on certain types of student loans.
STEM on Social Media
Check your favorite social media platform for posts by these STEM groups to connect with STEM educators to share STEM lesson plans, activities and professional insight.
Microsoft Imagine Academy
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
STEM Activities for Kids
STEM and STEAM Activities with Meredith Anderson – Momgineer
STEM Educators Connection
The STEM Educators Network
STEM Teacher Tribe
Technology Teacher Tribe with Brittany Washburn
Interested in Becoming a STEM Educator or Specialist?
Ready to share your passion to inspire students to pursue STEM careers? The more specific your goal as a STEM educator, the less time and money you’ll spend in preparation and education. Requirements for STEM educators vary by grade level and location, so check education and licensure requirements in the area where you intend to teach.
Still unsure if becoming a STEM educator is right for you? Explore opportunities to volunteer in STEM teaching situations to find out if this career is a good fit. Volunteering at summer STEM camps, after-school STEM programs and extracurricular clubs can be a worthwhile way to test your interest in working with STEM curriculum at all grade levels.
Ready to Jumpstart Your Career?
Whether you’re a current or prospective STEM educator, finding the right educational program is key to your success in this growing career field. Training for STEM educators includes a wide range of options, from bachelor’s degrees for first-time students to certificates and endorsements for experienced educators. Traditional classroom, online and hybrid learning situations make STEM training accessible to virtually anyone.
Explore your options and opportunities at a school that fits your needs using the “Find Schools” button below.