Springfield teachers and students agree STEM emphasis should be statewide

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Missouri lawmakers will start a special session next week, and one topic they'll take up is making sure kids have plenty of opportunities to learn science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Springfield Public Schools already place quite an emphasis on STEM education, and teachers and students alike believe it should be the norm.

Biomedical classes are just one of the focuses of the SPS Project Lead the Way program, where students can also choose to focus on computer science and engineering.

Kickapoo junior Aiden Pezzani says, " I just like it; it's very geared toward the medical field, which is kind of what I want to go into."

Kickapoo teacher Jami Jansen says, "I want my students to be successful. I want them to be competitive, not just here locally, but globally. And we know that the job market favors those STEM careers."

Students have the opportunity to use advanced tools and learn about STEM careers. Jansen says, "I have had students come back and they say, thank you so much, because genetics was so much easier. I knew what they were talking about, and I had used those tools that we were using in lab, whereas some of my peers in class had no idea what was going on."

"We cannot afford to delay this process, putting Missouri's students further behind the curve," Governor Mike Parson said at a news conference in Springfield Tuesday. Missouri lawmakers will take another look at legislation next week that would increase awareness about STEM careers statewide and put more emphasis on computer science education.

Pezzani says, "I'm very grateful we do have this to do, because if we did not, I wouldn't have been able to test it out. Would have gone to college, paid a lot of money if I didn't like it, and that's a waste."

Because of the emphasis on STEM, students like Pezzani have a clearer picture of their future. "I just kind of want to be either a surgeon or forensic scientist, one of the two. This is helping me decide more towards which one I want to," Pezzani says."

"It gives them an edge. It gives these kids a one up on so many other students across the country, around the world," Jansen says.

Governor Parson vetoed a STEM education bill last month because he believed that legislation favored one vendor for STEM online courses.