Empowered STEM is a project of Earth Force

The young people in our classrooms are living through a time unlike anything any generation has faced before. From gun violence in our schools, to climate change impacting our world, and most recently a pandemic, our students have ample reason to react with a mixture of anxiety, fear, and foreboding. Yet, in this unstable environment young people are making it clear that they want to make a difference in their communities and that they want to be heard. 

The desire to make a difference can be a powerful incentive for learning.

When asked to solve problems facing their community, students leverage experience, harness internal and external resources, develop a plan, and push forward to find the best solution. A 2016 report showed that students working on projects they care deeply about outperformed other students by 49%. As schools adapt and we consider how to prepare our students for the 21st Century, it is imperative that students be given more autonomy in their learning to prepare them for college, careers, and citizenship.

Empowered STEM provides a framework for educators to teach Science and Engineering (as well as many other subjects) within the context of a student’s community. By placing students at the center of improving their community we create a learning context that is dynamic and drives students to deeper learning.

5 Reasons to Use Empowered STEM

How do we know it works?

The Community Action and Problem Solving process was devised by Earth Force in 1998 to increase student engagement in solving environmental problems. Since that time the process has been refined and improved through an ongoing process of testing, evaluating, and redesigning. Through this process we have been able to devise a model that is educator friendly.

In addition to our ongoing improvement process, we regularly review the prevailing research to ensure that we are incorporating the latest thinking on education. We are working with a group of researchers, professional trainers, and experts in youth advocacy to continually improve our program. You can read our background research on the three schools of thought behind Empowered STEM: Action Civics, High Quality STEM, and Project-Based Learning.

For more information on how these traditions work together, contact us at ese@earthforce.org.