I had mixed emotions as I was reading the March 25 article, “UMF students studying STEM.” I applaud the efforts and success of UMF and 4-H to bring science to the students of School Administrative District 9 in Farmington. 4-H provides many opportunities for students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas. This is a wonderful collaboration. Lynn Wells is to be commended for opening her classroom and providing her students and herself with this valuable opportunity.

I was, however, dismayed and disappointed by the direction of SAD 9. Dr. Tom Ward speaks of a switch over in curriculum to focus on mathematics and reading at elementary levels because of the lack of time and money. Many districts, not only SAD 9, are limiting or eliminating science. Some districts are stuck on teaching only reading and math because those are the tested subjects. Without science and engineering, Maine students will be left behind.

Children come to school with curiosity and wonderment about their world. Schools should be capitalizing on that wonderment by using science as an application for other subjects. When students do not receive science teaching and learning in lower grades, they are not prepared either for the challenge of being an informed citizen or for upper grade science. Science has a global impact. We need a science/STEM literate population. Citizens need to be able to understand and make decisions in this ever-technological society. Think about all the medical, energy, weather related issues people hear about every day.

It is so important for science to be taught in the elementary grades. Science should not be an add-on-something to do if there is time. It is essential! Children should not have to give up recess for science. It should be part of their day, available to all students.

Pamela M. Thompson

President, Maine Science Teachers Association

Retired elementary teacher

Industry