EdCuration Blog: Learning in Action

Diversifying STEM: Penda Learning Empowers ALL Students in STEM Education

May 18, 2023 6:02:41 PM / by Jessica Ozuna, M.Ed.

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According to the National Science Foundation, the STEM workforce is 89% white and 72% male, while the overall workforce is 78% white and 53% male. This is in stark contrast to the diversity of the overall student population in the USA, which according to the National Center for Education Statistics, is made up of only 47% white and 42% male.  In addition, 13% of students identify as English language learners (ELLs) and 14% of students identify as students with disabilities.  Inconsistency in educational outcomes and access to educational opportunities at a young age can contribute to this lack of diversity in the STEM workforce.  Penda Learning is addressing this concern and working to provide equitable access for all students which is crucial to increasing diversity and representation in STEM fields.


Why is this alarming? 

The lack of diversity in STEM careers is concerning for a number of reasons. Some of the more pressing considerations are:

  • Limited Opportunities: A lack of diversity in STEM fields limits opportunities for underrepresented groups including women and minorities. This perpetuates the cycle of inequality, causing many of the political problems we are facing today.  

  • Lack of Role Models:  Students who have the opportunity to work with and observe mentors of a similar ethnic, gender or cultural background gain more confidence in their own ability to be successful in that field. 

  • Narrow Perspectives: Many of the STEM based issues troubling our current and future workforce such as climate change, health care and energy consumption require innovative and creative perspectives. Diversity in the workforce brings variety in viewpoints, experiences and backgrounds which translates into more innovation. 

Increasing diversity in STEM education is essential for ensuring our collective future, and fortunately, Penda Learning is offering solutions.  

Improving K-12 education is a crucial first step toward increasing diversity in STEM fields. By providing inclusive science instruction to all students, regardless of their reading level or home language, we can work toward closing the gap and increasing representation. Penda Learning is the perfect resource to achieve this goal. By offering inclusive science instruction that supports all readers, ELL students and students with different learning needs. Penda helps to level the playing field and ensure that all students, regardless of background, have access to high-quality science instruction. 


Four ways that Penda Learning helps close the diversity gap in STEM. 

  1. Inclusive Instruction: Penda Learning automates differentiated instruction for teachers, auto-assigns activities based on either a district's scope and sequence and curriculum guides or on a student’s proven mastery and provides opportunities to review and practice difficult concepts. Integrated with Immersive Readers, Penda’s activities are accessible to all learners, including English learners (68 different languages) and those with word-reading difficulties. 

  2. Gamified, Culturally Relevant Content: Penda’s game-based system has been created utilizing Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels to strengthen neural pathways that will encourage success throughout the student’s life. The gamified instruction taps into both the students’ emotional and intellectual knowledge and scaffolds based on each student’s knowledge and experiences. Thus, creating an opportunity for student success regardless of background schema. Additionally, students have the opportunity to create their own avatar which allows them to design characteristics representative of themselves.  

  3. Teacher Support: Penda Learning recognizes that teachers are the front line in educating all students and provides support and ease of implementation. Resources are based on best practice and aligned to standards as well as your district’s scope and sequence. Penda will not only auto-grade assignments but will also auto assign activities, auto generate progress monitoring reports and data to support intervention, manage small group instruction and track growth. These components will streamline and simplify RTI and/or MTSS processes. Reports cover individuals to entire campuses, based on the level of detail needed. This allows teachers and administrators to recognize those students in need and focus on areas of need as well.

  4. Preparation for High Stakes Tests: In order to grow and continue through STEM careers, many students will need to participate in high stakes testing. Penda Learning prepares them for these exams and boosts their confidence along the way. This is done by ensuring that students have mastered both state and national standards. Since activities are scaffolded, students progress at a rate that ensures they’ve mastered standards. Mastery is supported and ensured by utilization of highly aligned formative and diagnostic assessments, immediate feedback, support and monitoring reports. As students master the skills required, they will build the confidence and knowledge needed to excel at high stakes tests. 

The lack of diversity in the U.S. STEM workforce is a major societal concern, especially when compared to the diverse population throughout this country. Limited opportunities, lack of role models, and narrow perspectives are some of the pressing concerns that contribute to this imbalance. For schools and districts that are working to right this wrong, and make STEM careers possible for their population, Penda Learning can help you address these issues. Penda offers inclusive instruction, gamified and culturally relevant content, teacher support, and preparation for high stakes tests. By providing inclusive science instruction to all students, Penda Learning is helping to level the playing field and ensure that all students have access to high-quality science instruction, and thus is increasing diversity and representation in STEM fields.


Topics: STEM, special education, RTI/MTSS

Jessica Ozuna, M.Ed.

Written by Jessica Ozuna, M.Ed.

Jessica is a professional educator and experienced presenter, professional developer and curriculum writer. She has over 17 years experience teaching and leading with a focus in Career & Technical Education.

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