LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The subject of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is all around us and educators are looking for unique ways to get young people involved in the field.

Whether that be as current students or aspiring teachers.

The University of Kentucky College of Education is looking to do just that.

For this current generation of students, regardless of whether or not they like STEM topics, there is no denying those skills will be crucial to their future success.

UK College of Education Senior Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Partnerships Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, Ph.D., said students now need to know how to use STEM skills in everyday life and at a minimum have a basic appreciation of them.

The biggest way in creating that appreciation, Mohr-Schroeder believes is for kids to see people not much older than them interested in the field.

Through UK STEM Summer Experiences camp, kids get involved in STEM under the leadership of STEM professionals and older students preparing to go into STEM fields.

“It’s nice to see someone who looks like you in STEM, who thinks like you, who maybe had a similar path as you are going into STEM and our mentors are critical for our young people in that respect,” Mohr-Schroeder explained.

But the current students aren’t the only people who benefit from STEM experiences.

In a time where there is a massive teacher shortage not just in Kentucky but nationwide, particularly in STEM subjects, aspiring teachers with a background in STEM can get a fast track on becoming certified teachers.

The program is called the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board’s University-Based Alternative Pathway to Certification, more simply known as Option 6. It allows qualified teacher candidates to work in a full-time teaching position at a Kentucky school, while enrolled in a participating teacher prep program.

Aspiring teachers gets temporary certification to teach in public schools.

Mohr-Schroeder believes this will help bridge the gap between supporting the community while also supporting aspiring educators to be the best they can be.


Another way aspiring teachers can get involved in the classroom is by volunteering for programs such as STEM summer experiences.

She said what has made camp successful in the past, is the fact that it gives prospective teachers the chance to interact with students in a low-pressure setting.

“When you put someone who’s interested in teaching or wanting to go into teaching or maybe wanting to go into teaching into a classroom, it’s almost under a microscope,” Mohr-Schroeder described. “When you remove that microscope, you get them in a more nontraditional environment, and they can relax. They can engage with young people, and they can really see what working with them and helping form the future generation looks like.”

Mohr-Schroeder said the camp has been replicated in seven different states.

Her team in Kentucky, as well as the educators in other states, tailor each program based on research for what the biggest needs are in that area’s education system. Recruiting potential STEM teachers is a key to the success of each camp.

For parents who are concerned about the state of our schools, there is one simple thing Mohr-Schroeder suggests you do.

“I think that being an engaged parent is probably one of the most critical things advocating for your student,” said Mohr-Schroeder. “Working with your teachers and working with your schools. Staying involved in that is really, really important. And then volunteering at your school. They do a lot of really great things, and they’re also always willing to partner with local community organizations.”

For more information, you can find it here.