But how relevant this saying is today, one might wonder. Let’s dive into the typical day and its inner workings of a teacher. Surprisingly, it doesn’t start at 9:00 am, nor does it end at 3:30 pm—not anymore. As the bell rings and students begin to meander into their respective classes, teachers continually shuffle between different tasks, objectives, assignments, meetings, and whatnot. Imagine your first job was teaching children to read and write a new language, master symbolic reasoning, and engage in complex group dynamics. Now throw in teaching how to tie shoe-laces, basic hygiene like remembering to wash hands after going to the washroom, and ingraining healthy habits and mannerisms. That’s followed by after-school professional learning meetings focused on tracking student progress and a final check and triage of emails.
Welcome to the life of a K-12 teacher. Does it sound daunting? It is, and rightfully so. There is no denying that teaching the next generation of leaders and citizens is arguably the most important yet grueling job anyone does. As opposed to the traditional education delivery model, which vitally lacks hands-on learning, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) pedagogy is bringing about the much-needed change to nourish the curiosity and genius streak of kids as they grow. However, when it comes to imparting robust early education, particularly in STEM, there is a slew of obstacles that come along the way.
To begin with, we have to consider the breadth versus depth of knowledge—K-12 teachers are entrusted with teaching kids a diverse range of fundamentals, concepts, behaviors, and social norms, and it’s nearly impossible to have specialized knowledge in all of them. As a result, early educators often feel that they aren’t prepared to tackle science, let alone technology or engineering, and even a core subject like math. The second is ongoing support. There are limited opportunities for STEM-specific professional development designed for elementary teachers. It is critical to support teachers in integrating STEM inquiry into the overall curriculum and reimagine the school day to create space for hands-on learning and problem-solving. Kids are naturally wired to experiment and learn from their environment; in fact, there is mounting evidence that if kids don’t experience the spark of STEM before middle school, they’re unlikely to ever major in a STEM subject, let alone persevere with a STEM career. Encouraging and supporting elementary teachers to capitalize on kids’ natural curiosity is half the battle of filling the millions of vacant positions in STEM fields.
As critical thinking, logical analysis, inquiry, and project-based learning are the keystones in STEM education, incorporating STEM/STEAM into schools might seem to be a job easier said than done. But this is what STEM Fuse intends to change!
STEM Fuse is a digital K-12 curriculum provider specializing in STEM, computer science, and career technical education (CTE) curriculum solutions. STEM Fuse empowers schools, educators, and students with courses and resources that are easy to teach, engaging, tech-focused, and cost-effective and offers custom solutions to all districts, no matter where they are at with their STEM, CTE, or ed-tech initiatives. “We provide impactful and affordable curriculum solutions on our digital platform. But above all, STEM Fuse is known for providing consistent, ongoing, and direct training and ongoing support for its teacher clients,” notes Carter Tatge, Founder and CEO of STEM Fuse.
Making a Real Impact on Education
Using topic-driven challenges, coding game activities, and 3D modeling projects, STEM Fuse offers STEM integration offerings that are ideal for any classroom or learning environment and easy to use, irrespective of the background of a teacher.
STEM Fuse delivers a wide range of products, including full 20 semester-long courses that contain 140 hours of instruction, assessments, quizzes, and more and as well as smaller lessons in STEM that integrate coding, design thinking, hands-on project-based learning with all subject matter. The semester-long courses are focused on both STEM and career technical education (CTE,) including computer science, mobile app design, game design, business technology, engineering and design, 3D printing, and more, and can be implemented right from kindergarten all the way up to the 12th grade or even till first two levels of college. These courses are geared toward helping your school create pathways for your students. STEM Fuse also includes PD and support with every course subscription to ensure quick and long-lasting success.
We provide impactful and affordable curriculum solutions on our digital platform. But above all, STEM Fuse is known for providing consistent, ongoing, and direct training and ongoing support for its teacher clients
The library of smaller supplemental STEM lessons, on the other hand, is designed to tie STEM skills and concepts into all core subjects, be it English language, Arts, or History. Teachers can use these digital modules to teach project-based Computer Science and 3D printing for every Social Studies, Science, Math, and ELA classroom! “We are one of the first companies to be able to help school districts incorporate STEM in all subject matter. We provide interactive, multimedia-focused content that are highly engaging for the students and easy for the instructors to facilitate and teach,” says Tatge. Be it the semester-long courses or supplemental courses—STEM Fuse ensures that all of them are aligned with state and national standards for each grade level and area of study.
Interestingly, much like inculcating critical thinking with its courses, the STEM Fuse team implements the idea of using the design cycle as a way of problem-solving. Tatge reveals, “We drink our own Kool Aid. We bring to bear a STEM-powered real-world problem-solving approach to understand a problem, brainstorm and create a solution, followed by testing and delivering the same.” This way, the company converts a highly technical subject into something that is palatable and easily digestible for a student or teacher, making it engaging and simple to teach while ensuring that it doesn’t lose its rigor.
Exemplary Customer Support System
For STEM Fuse, customer support is front and center. Each school, down to a teacher, is assigned a customer service representative to begin with, the initial training. For instance, if a school purchases a game design class, one of STEM Fuse’s service representatives trains the teacher/teachers on implementing the platform and content immediately.
While STEM Fuse primarily delivers hands-on, in-person training in bigger districts, the company has pivoted to online training due to the pandemic. In addition to remote training, STEM Fuse also ensures that teachers get the required assistance and the content is properly ingested by students.
Backed by a team of former educators and industry professionals, STEM Fuse provides customers with an exceptional experience—from sales to content. To illustrate, STEM Fuse worked closely with Miami-Dade County Public Schools—the nation’s fourth largest school district—to integrate STEM into all the classes. Miami-Dade has a diverse student body with a wide range of demographics, cultures, languages, and different socioeconomic slices. With STEM Fuse, they were able to combine STEM with all subject matter and classes like History, English language, or even the traditional Science or Math. For instance, they can now teach prepositional phrases in English language classes in fun and engaging ways using design thinking and problem-solving skills through STEM. All Miami-Dade Public Schools teachers currently have access to STEM Fuse’s attractive, hands-on and affordable platform in order to keep students in the CS pipeline. The company achieved this impressive feat through constant training and communication with teachers, enabling them to implement across K-12 in a variety of subject matter throughout the district.
How it All Started…
The idea of forming STEM Fuse originated from Tatge’s experience as a recruiter for a large college system in Minnesota—the fourth largest college system in the U.S. While working as recruiter with the upper Midwest high schools trying to engage high school students into STEM career pathways—computer science, health sciences, biotechnology and more—Tatge realized that not many students were interested in pursuing STEM degree programs. “Capitalizing on kids’ natural curiosity is half the battle of filling the millions of vacant positions in STEM fields. But, we didn’t have enough students at the high school level who are inclined to participate in various collegiate programs and degrees,” recalls Tatge.
Consequently, STEM Fuse was born in 2008 to stimulate student interest in STEM subjects through fun and engaging courses that lead students through their K-12 journey and also along their career path. “The first thing we created was a course around game design that focuses on computer science and coding, engineering and design thinking, and advanced math and physics. We wanted to show students that with the right mix of math, physics, and coding, they could design some fascinating games, which is a far more effective means of captivating student interest than old school textbook formulas and equations,” mentions Tatge.
"We drink our own Kool Aid. We bring to bear a STEM-powered real-world problem-solving approach to understand a problem, brainstorm and create a solution, followed by testing and delivering the same"
Since then, STEM Fuse has added 34 full semester courses and the library of supplemental lessons, accomplishing about 5,000 hours of STEM lessons. The company then built its intuitive delivery platform to help students access their contents from home or anywhere they want on any device. The platform also helps students capture their work and progress and provides schools with up-to-date reports on their students in just a click of a button. Over the decade, STEM Fuse has emerged as a brand renowned for innovation and creativity in the K-12 space, delivering its solutions to about 15000 schools in all 50 states.
All Eyes on a Promising Future
STEM Fuse understands that supporting elementary and K-12 educators to teach STEM early will give kids a leg up in this world of change and opportunity driven by technology. As such, the company plans to continue creating courses and content in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, advanced 3D printing, biotechnology, biomedicine, and more, to prepare students to tackle real world problems. The company is also looking to invest back in its platform to deliver a better experience to students and teachers and provide more robust reporting and AI analytics. With simplicity and affordability at the core, STEM Fuse will continue adding rich and innovative content and courses to empower students and teachers to solve the real-world problems of today and tomorrow.