With climate change, pollution, and the other worldwide issues we are facing today, the future is more uncertain than ever.
We are in dire need of new ideas-develop new and improved sources of energy, restore and upgrade urban infrastructure, and produce and engineer better healthcare and medicines.
To address these challenges, there is a need for us to raise awareness and understanding of STEM at a grassroots level. There is no doubt that learning STEM at a young age will bring about a brighter future for the generations after us.
Many educators, politicians, and business leaders believe that promoting and delivering improved STEM learning will push students to pursue their dreams as innovators, engineers, scientists, and mathematicians.
Students, especially children, are often inherently curious about the world around them which prompts them to constantly discover and learn new things. And while it is the same for STEM, there are subjects that students tend to shy away from such as science and math.
To close this gap, STEM needs to be made more appealing, accessible, and engaging. This can be done by integrating it into lesson plans instead of making them stand-alone lectures.
Here are some interesting ways to promote STEM learning:
Take Them on a Fascinating Field Trip
Learning within the four walls of a classroom can limit students in terms of creating unique ideas and concepts. When we let students learn outside of the classroom, they can be inspired by what they see, hear, or touch.
A field trip that highlights STEM subjects can spark their interest in learning even further. You can set up a tour of a local football stadium so that they can have the chance to get up close and personal with the game and the field. Not only is this exciting, but you can also interject the math behind football.
Introduce the concepts of velocity and gravity with a visit to an indoor skydiving facility. Teach speed and distance by going to your local gymnastics club. You can also do it the old-fashioned way and visit a museum or a planetarium.
Inspire with a Career Show and Tell
What can be better than learning it from the experienced? Gather mentors or speakers with real-world STEM careers. You can tap those from traditional STEM fields such as astronomers, mathematicians, software developers, chemical engineers, and medical scientists. An alternative is seeking out those with unexpected jobs that use STEM concepts and principles every day. These can be fashion designers, pastry chefs, zoologists, and food and flavor chemists.
Motivate students to be as hands-on as possible with these careers by having your guest speakers both show and tell them how they integrate science and math into their careers and everyday life. For example, teach math by having students measure ingredients to make a delicious cake. Geometry can be taught through measuring and cutting materials to create a nice pair of pants.
Take It to the Kitchen
It doesn’t look like it, but the kitchen is one of the best places to learn STEM because it makes learning both science and math more hands-on. Students can develop their math skills when dividing fractions for a recipe or explore chemistry by combining ingredients.
With the emergence of self-driving cars, drones that aid in rescue efforts, and robots that assist in day-to-day tasks, robotics is not a science fiction fever dream anymore. It is becoming our reality. To pique students’ interest in robotics, it would be best to introduce them to the robots themselves.
This is a great way to introduce programming languages to those who don’t have any experience yet. They can learn to write basic programs to make the robots move in different ways.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
STEM learning requires a lot of collaboration. Concepts can be materialized better when there are more people with different perspectives pitching their ideas in. Give students a group project where they can apply the skills and knowledge they have learned from lectures and hands-on experiences.
An example of a project you can give them is to build a model of a bridge, create a miniature robot, or design an app.
Decipher Problems That Happen in the Real-World
Real-world problems affect all of us. Give students the opportunity to think through an issue that is currently happening in the real world. Ask them about the problems they are passionate about solving. After some ruminating, you can then prompt them to come up with inventive solutions to address these pressing matters.
One example of this is to ask them to think about countries without access to clean water. How will they create low-cost options for filtering water? Another is to present them with the problem of urban planning. How will they improve a city’s design to address issues such as transportation and overcrowding? How will they lessen a city’s environmental footprint?
Remind students that trial and error is necessary for these kinds of situations. It is through failure that we learn and sometimes, it may even lead us to better solutions. STEM is not just for the future; it is also for the present of these students. With STEM learning, they will be equipped with everything they need to thrive in their day-to-day lives.
These include skills such as critical thinking, decision making, leadership, creativity, persistence, and learning from failure. With these traits, they can continue to find ideas, concepts, and solutions that will create a better world and a brighter future for themselves and the generations after.