Our efforts in education must include all three pieces:
- Engagement - "The spark" that gets a child interested in learning.
- Capacity - "The skills" needed to continue to the next level of understanding.
- Continuity - "The pathways" that provide access to higher learning and careers.
Some educators worry that hands-on, inquiry-based science does not actually lead to higher-order understanding. Yet, quality inquiry learning is considered necessary by all of the major science standards (NSTA has a good position paper summarizing this.)
Some policy makers think that a child with an interest in science and the skills necessary to achieve success will find the path to a career. However, there are many more obstacles, especially for the millions of children living in poverty, who choose jobs over career-related internships, or who cannot afford college. Even given the resources, a child may never pursue a science or engineering career if they have never seen a role model - someone who looks like them - follow a similar path.
So, as we meet the challenge of raising a generation of science and technology workers, let us keep in mind that there are many pieces to the puzzle. Luckily, none of us faces that challenge alone.