STEM Education in Juvenile Detention Centers: Importance, Ways to Teach, and More
- October 26, 2023
- Posted by: Ashley Pereira
- Category: STEM education
As a teacher, have you ever felt drawn to helping children who have gotten into legal trouble? Do you want to use STEM education to give them a better understanding of the world? Would you like to assist them in developing efficient skills for their future?
In any case, if you’ve got a board certification, you can teach at detention centers. These facilities offer educational programs that help troubled youth upskill while being punished.
However, reports suggest that detained youth don’t have access to proper educational opportunities. That’s why their STEM learning abilities are minimized in detention centers.
Therefore, educational reform and rehabilitation are a necessity at these detention facilities. As a teacher, you can change their lives, help them rehabilitate, and manage their schoolwork.
In this blog, we will discuss why incorporating STEM subjects into a juvenile detention center’s curriculum is important, ways to do that, and more.
Why Is STEM Education Important for Juvenile Offenders?
STEM programs have become a crucial part of teaching methods as they help students learn about computation and develop interpersonal skills. They allow students to apply their daily learning to the real world. This program also helps them enhance their scientific literacy, boost their curiosity, and build their resilience to life’s problems.
If taught efficiently, STEM can offer the same benefit to juvenile offenders. Attorneys believe juveniles turn to a life of crime due to poor educational quality and school performance. That’s why the government has focused on education for those under the supervision of the juvenile justice system.
With STEM embedded in their education, they can develop critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. These educational interventions will help build their skills through cognitive-behavioral techniques. As a result, it can increase their chance of getting into good universities and decrease recidivism.
These programs can also help students in juvenile detention facilities enhance their portfolio for work. They can gain logical problem-solving skills that will eventually assist them in securing good jobs. Therefore, they can seek work as engineers, scientists, mathematicians, or physicists.
Today’s labor market demands exceptional vocational and academic training. Approximately 64% of unemployed men have a criminal record and lower levels of education during rehabilitation. Hence, the correct STEM academics can be crucial components in enhancing their ability to get a job in the future.
What Can You Expect While Teaching at Juvenile Detention Centers?
Irrespective of your STEM qualifications, you cannot become a full-time teacher at juvenile detention centers. According to Chron, teachers at juvenile detention centers have their work cut out for them.
Let’s take David Beatty’s example. He is a full-time teacher at Lincoln Public School. Beatty is also responsible for teaching detained Nebraska youth in the Lancaster County Youth Services Center.
He understands that these detained students have not received a proper education. Hence, Beatty wants to use his skills to make them love learning again. He states that every day is different when teaching troubled youth. For instance, the kids in these correctional facilities only stay for a few weeks or months.
That means you must teach a constantly changing student group with different traumas and learning challenges. You can expect to meet unique cases of emotionally troubled kids.
Of course, it can be hard for you to get through to them and make them love learning STEM. As a teacher, you can try to create a personalized learning environment for them. You could even watch the movie Freedom Writers to understand ways to do that.
This way, you can deliver and develop STEM education by overcoming challenges and understanding your responsibilities. It all boils down to inspiring these students to work for a better future through love, tenderness, and understanding.
The Responsibilities of a STEM Teacher at Juvenile Detention Centers
Teachers must create an educational ecosystem that is accessible to various youth learners. You need to provide STEM learning opportunities based on a multidisciplinary juvenile justice community.
Therefore, you must collaborate to examine the educational infrastructure and determine the challenges. Doing so will help you facilitate STEM learning in the existing curriculum. As a result, teachers at juvenile detention centers should:
- Prepare lesson plans around STEM
- Develop STEM curriculums and activities
- Provide students with an evaluation of their rehabilitation journey
- Maintain a safe learning environment by enforcing rules and policies
- Give them rewards as they finish each STEM project
4 Ways to Teach STEM at Detention Centers
If you’ve taken the correct educational path for STEM teaching, then you are good to go. It includes getting a master’s degree in school counseling to expand your skill set and knowledge base.
With this, you can address the various challenges these children face. Examples include poor academics, low self-esteem, and emotional difficulties. Your STEM education will determine your ability to identify risks and foster personal growth.
But how can you incorporate STEM education into a detention center’s curriculum? Well, you can follow these tips:
- Find ways to pique their interest in STEM by showing your passion for the subjects and real-life success stories
- Go beyond the classroom and focus on practical activities or projects to help the students keep an open mind
- Mimic real-life scenarios and be hands-on to incorporate STEM slowly and seamlessly into their projects
- Choose to use the Engineering Design Process (EDP) to encourage practical and creative solutions
You can also use adaptive learning techniques to offer a STEM learning experience to juveniles undergoing rehabilitation.
The Bottom Line
STEM has been around for hundreds of years in our society’s educational model. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have heard about scientists like Pythagoras, Einstein, Aryabhata, etc. Today, it has been embedded into modern learning methods across various countries.
It is a teacher’s responsibility to provide proper STEM education to students, irrespective of their background. When it comes to children at detention facilities, you must overcome barriers and identify with them to offer impactful STEM learning services. Only then can you change their life and help them rehabilitate.