Journal of STEM Teacher Education


Informal STEM learning opportunities offered outside of the structured school day have been gaining popularity in today’s STEM-oriented culture. These are venues where children and their families gather to engage and explore in science, technology, engineering, and math —together. For a number of years, faculty from the College of Education at Tennessee Tech University have been promoting these events for the local community, free of charge, to encourage and foster a love for STEM Education. Methods professors recognize these events as golden opportunities for teacher candidates enrolled to learn about STEM content while aiding in the development of their pedagogy. In addition to the experience gained from working with the materials at various STEM stations, teacher candidates have the opportunity to interact with children and families. Furthermore, teacher candidates interact with faculty and students from other academic areas such as nursing, engineering, biology and physics, as well as content specialists from the community. These interactions help to bolster preservice teachers’ skills and feelings of self-efficacy toward communicating with families and teaching STEM concepts. The informal STEM learning events offer a variety of experiences often unavailable during the school day and promote the social, emotional, and intellectual skills of our teacher candidates, as well as, those of the children and families who attend.