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Teachers can take free engineering classes at St. Thomas, thanks to Google

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Educators will get the opportunity to take free engineering classes at the University of St. Thomas next year – thanks to a grant from Google.

Google donated $100,000 to give pre-school through high school teachers the opportunity to take full-credit engineer-education courses at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering this spring and summer, a news release says.

“The sponsorship from Google opens so many doors for us. We are now able to rapidly expand access to our engineering education program to many more current and future teachers," AnnMarie Thomas, an associate professor who co-founded St. Thomas’ Center for Engineering Education, said in the release.

The courses are meant to give teachers confidence to bring engineering experiences and content to their students, which is crucial because many STEM educators have never taken a course in how to teach engineering (tuition for those courses can cost $1,200).

Four three-credit courses will be offered: Engineering Design, Engineering in the P-12 Classroom, Digital Electronics and Computing Systems, and Material Science and Engineering. Click here for more information.

STEM education has been the focus of many initiatives as of late. President Barack Obama and others have made it a priority to increase the number of students and teachers who are proficient in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the U.S. Department of Education says.

Proponents say a stronger focus on STEM will make American schools more competitive globally and also prepare them for the job market.

But not everyone believes a strong focus on STEM education is everything. The Washington Post published an opinion piece earlier this year on why America's obsession with STEM is dangerous. The writer argues that technology and science aren't enough – subjects like English and philosophy can't be forgotten, because they're also important components of education.

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