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Beyond The Textbooks: What’s Really Working In The Classroom?

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The U.S. lags behind other countries when it comes to preparing students for science, engineering and math courses.

As Gigi Barnett explains, one group of writers believes that more media attention could boost the number of interested students.

Behind every science project is a student with many questions.

“I have a baby cousin and like a lot of babies she has a security blanket that she carries everywhere and I noticed that she was sticking it in her mouth,” Sarita Lee said.

So ninth-grade student Sarita Lee tested that blanket and found toxic substances. It’s the kind of science project students from Maryland and Virgina showcased Friday at UMBC. All of their projects were featured at the National Education Writers Association Conference.

“We wanted to see what’s really working in the classrooms in our local schools and neighboring states. What has kids excited about learning? And we found really that it’s the kind of hands-on, intensive activities,” NEWA spokeswoman Emily Richmond said.

Emily Richmond is the spokeswoman for the group. She says education writers and reporters from across the country spent the day examining what attracts students to science, technology, engineering and math careers. One way to boost interest among students and parents:

“Get it in the news more and help people understand, particularly taxpayers who may be asked to pay for a bond measure to improve the science labs. Why does that matter?” Richmond asked.

Teachers say one reason the U.S. may lag behind other countries when it comes to STEM is that those countries start early teaching the subjects to younger students.

“If we can provide a wide range of opportunities from AP courses down to perhaps on-site or  school-based research experiences to give students more hands on opportunities and really to let them see beyond the textbooks.”

Compared to other nations, American students rank 25th in math subjects and 17th in science and technology courses.

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