“Diversity of ideas drives innovation. Broadening the talent pool will not take anything away from the creativity and innovation that currently exists in STEM fields but will add new components to the mix.”
Carol M. Giuriceo is the new director of the Rhode Island STEM Center at Rhode Island College.
Upon announcing her as the new director, RIC hailed Giuriceo as “an expert in the fields of science education and underrepresented populations.” The school said it hopes that Giuriceo will infuse efforts to strengthen STEM – which is short for “science, technology, engineering and math” – by attracting more women and members of minority groups to the fields.
Giuriceo talked to Providence Business News about her new position, upcoming initiatives and the future of STEM evolution.
PBN: What are you most looking forward to in your new position as the new director of the RI STEM Center at Rhode Island College?
GIURICEO: I am very excited to be the new director of the RI STEM Center at Rhode Island College. This position gives me the opportunity to use my experience in formal and informal education to work with people across Rhode Island to continually improve education in the STEM fields – Science, Technology, Education and Math. I hope to tap into the vast resources and talent of this state in both the public and private sectors to form partnerships at different levels that benefit everyone. Most of all I look forward to sharing my love of STEM and working to make it more accessible, “user-friendly,” and relevant to the students of Rhode Island. Everyone is naturally curious and an understanding of STEM helps people explore the world.
PBN: Why do you think it's so important to draw both women and members of minority groups to the STEM fields?
GIURICEO: STEM fields offer creative and engaging careers that are both personally fulfilling and serve a crucial purpose. Although not everyone is going to work within the STEM industry, every student should have the opportunity to be welcomed and engaged in a STEM field. STEM fields can only be strengthened by the addition of members of underrepresented populations. People from different backgrounds in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, income level, and other factors bring multiple perspectives to discussions. Diversity of ideas drives innovation. Broadening the talent pool will not take anything away from the creativity and innovation that currently exists in STEM fields but will add new components to the mix.
PBN: Do you have any initiatives planned to help attract people to study STEM?
GIURICEO: I just started as director on July 15 so currently I am in the process of familiarizing myself with all of the programs of the RI STEM Center. I hope to continue the programs that have been established under the direction of the former director, Mary Sullivan, a mathematics professor who retired last month. I plan to strengthen the strong relationships between the STEM Center and its current partners and reach out and build new collaborations with educators in grades K-12, higher education and state and local school departments, as well as informal learning organizations and business and industry leaders.
I want to establish the RI STEM Center as a place where creativity and knowledge come together to produce innovation – not just innovation in education and STEM programs but new ideas in public/private partnerships and community outreach. I think the STEM Center is in a unique position to be an incubator of ideas for STEM education, outreach, and partnerships.
PBN: Have you seen a shift in the study of STEM in the last 10 years?
GIURICEO: Within the last 10 years there has been increased dialogue about teaching STEM. More educators are focusing on the teaching of STEM disciplines as a way to help students develop problem-solving skills and a way of thinking that extends beyond scientific literacy and into other fields.
Many also acknowledge that there is a certain “culture” of STEM. By culture, I am referring to a set of beliefs that include ideas about the type of person who enters STEM fields and how STEM is taught, among other factors. I think people in STEM education are starting to move the conversation forward so that instructional strategies, classroom environment, and attitudes are becoming more inclusive.
PBN: How do you see the study of the science, technology, engineering and math fields evolving in the next 10 years?
GIURICEO: STEM education will benefit from continuing technological innovations. Currently, many educators use resources from the Internet, interactive technologies, and social media to enrich their teaching. Many colleges and universities offer online and hybrid (a combination of online and in-class) courses. Although many educators actively evaluate the success of these tools, I hope that within the next 10 years we become more discerning and base their use on evidence-based practices.
Another trend that’s exciting is the growing popularity of the Maker and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Movements. People have always designed, developed and built things on their own but the increased availability of new technologies such as 3-D printers and the ability to connect and share with like-minded individuals through the Internet has pushed collaboration to a new level. People are exploring STEM in new ways. Involvement with STEM outside of formal learning spaces in a fun and participatory way promotes learning and encourages lifelong pursuit of knowledge. I see this trend continuing as technology becomes more ubiquitous and newer and more advanced technologies come to market. However, we must work together to ensure that all children have access to these and other opportunities.