COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Idaho science and math teachers are coming together this week to talk about how to promote STEM in the classroom.
The Great Idaho STEM Together conference takes place Tuesday and Wednesday in Coeur d'Alene to focus on science, technology, engineering and math teaching at elementary and high school levels.
Teachers are sharing ways they get students interested in these fields.
"One of the things we're trying to do is think about kids' natural interests and then relate those to science, technology, engineering and math and help them build off things that they're interested in, and also thinking just long-term about career and the pipeline for jobs in the future," says Julie Amador, associate professor at the University of Idaho and former elementary school teacher.
There's massive potential for children who want to make a career in these fields. According to the Idaho STEM Action Center, there are more than 6,300 unfilled STEM jobs in the Gem State.
The conference is at Lake City High School.
Abe Wallin, a regional math specialist at the University of Idaho Coeur d'Alene, says all the major sciences will be represented and there will be presentations on how to bring engineering and technology into the classroom, such as problem solving exercises and robotics.
He also notes STEM isn't just important for children's career paths. A focus on these fields also can help solve local issues.
"Getting kids aware that it's not just somebody in a laboratory all the time who's 'doing STEM,'" he states. There's lots of people. There's the loggers, foresters - all those folks are still engaged in STEM-related fields."
Wallin says even for children who don't make a career with STEM, the fields can teach them how to better understand the world.
"One specific area is data and being a good consumer of data, and being able to read the paper or see statistics and, sort of, decode some of that," he points out. "I think that's a benefit for all of our students."