Advancing STEM Education Outside the Classroom

Computing has become an integral part of the practice of modern science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

As a result, computational and computational thinking approaches are dramatically increasing the understanding of the world and society—from particle physics to biology and aerospace to Earth systems science. Computation is central to the practice of science and engineering. The translation of mathematical models of phenomena into computer simulations allows scientists to analyze systems, predict the future and reconstruct the past, on a scale far greater in complexity than previously possible. In addition, scientists now have the ability to collect, query, visualize and analyze unprecedented amounts of data. These computational capabilities are revolutionizing STEM disciplines.

Kartveli (left) at the chalk board

Kartveli (left) at the chalk board

All students—but particularly students in STEM disciplines—need to understand the role of computation and computational thinking within disciplinary problem solving. Too few students, however, have the opportunity to gain these understandings and skills in or outside of school.

Computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists. To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability. Students can gain a better understanding of STEM and computing fields if they can see the creative modes of scientific exploration made possible by advances in computation, such as visualizations of scientific concepts, modeling and simulation in engineering design, use of high performance computing for physics, climate research and aeronautics, molecular chemistry, computational biology, and bioinformatics.

The Alexander Kartveli Association’s mission is to create awareness of Kartveli's scientific achievements and personal qualities that made his impact on aerospace engineering a vital weapon against the 20th century’s greatest tyrannical threats. Today, the Association promotes programs that support learning, innovation and STEM education as a reflection of Kartveli’s own life and accomplishments.

Last month the Association sponsored a week-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Voyager missions as part of its mission to support efforts to expand opportunities for young people in STEM initiatives in Tblisi, Georgia, where Kartveli was born. 

Key members of the original mission team attended included Rob Manning, Mars program senior engineer, and John Casani, Head of the Voyager satellite program. The U.S. Ambassador Kelly and Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood also participated in the events.