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Interactive video lesson plan for: How STEM Was Born: And Why Scientists Needs Humanists | Earl Lewis

Activity overview:

Through an incredible anecdote, Earl Lewis demonstrates why STEM can't do it alone. Scientists and humanists needs each other, and institutions have a responsibility to continue to fund and nurture the humanities. Lewis's latest book is "Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society" (


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Transcript - A number of commentators over the last decade maybe two decades have talked about what I think of as skills development meaning do you have the requisite skills to be able to enter your first job. Can you read well? Can you write well? Do you have the ability to code, et cetera? I actually think we often times confused skills and skills development with education. An education is actually designed to actually encourage the individual to consider questions they hadn't considered before, to actually be able to assemble a vast array of information and then to synthesize that information and to come up with perhaps what one would think of as new answers. It's not about learning the most recent technique. And the challenge is is that if you only talk about skills development the way knowledge is produced these days a generation is 18 months. And so that means by the time you've actually finish school often times you're already behind the curve and some of that information is obsolete. If you're really truly educated you then learn and you know how to go about pursuing the new acquisition of information and that information that you can then synthesize and apply to what you already know means then that you're not behind the curve, you're keeping pace with the change that's always occurring in both technology and other aspects of American life.

I love STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. I actually can remember circa 1998 being at a meeting at the National Science Foundation and it wasn't even STEM yet, it was SMET: science, math, engineering and technology. And we were all sitting there going are you sure you want to call it SMET? And we came back a year later and it turned from being SMET to STEM and we go why is it now STEM and not SMET? And they said well, believe it or not we were up on Capitol Hill asking for money for SMET and one congress person's aid goes, "Why do we want money for smut?" Misunderstanding and miss hearing what was being said and they realized at that point that they need to re-order the alphabet. And so hence was born STEM. Read Full Transcript Here:

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