The Mathematics/Science/Technology (M/S/T) program was renamed the iSTEM Education program (iSTEM is short for integrative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), a change that was made to keep the program’s nomenclature consistent with national trends in STEM education. When the major was first proposed in 1998, “It was likely the first of its kind in the country—a pre-service training program for K–5 teachers that emphasize all areas of STEM,” Steve O’Brien, director for TCNJ’s Center for Excellence in STEM Education, said.
Today, the iSTEM program enrolls more than 150 students, nearly all of whom also complete middle school endorsements in math, science, or both. Its graduates account for one-third of TCNJ’s K–5 education graduates, O’Brien said. “This results in 35-to-50 program graduates per year going into elementary and middle schools, who know how to effectively teach and integrate STEM and non-STEM content,” he said. Research shows that K–5 students whose teachers are STEM-literate are less likely to develop anxiety about STEM subject areas, increasing competency and interest in STEM fields.
TCNJ’s iSTEM program has been so successful that institutions around the country have asked the College’s technological studies department for help developing similar offerings, O’Brien said—a development that will keep TCNJ at the forefront of STEM education.