STEM has become more than just a term of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It is a movement urged by the government to increase student engagement in these areas of education and public needs. There are many initiatives and STEM programs established by U.S. Department of Education.
It seems STEM literacy has become one of the main goals for American institutions since 2015. $240 million were supposed to become commitments of the new private sector. In 2016 numerous initiatives and actions of private and non-private sectors resulted in $500,000 for 80,000 students and their 500 classroom STEM projects.
So, why have STEM disciplines deserved such attention from the American government and various educational organizations? After U.S. students scored less than Japanese, Chinese, Korean eighth-graders in Math and Science international tests it clearly showed the future leaders in science and innovations. Below you can see an infographic that demonstrates the full depth of this problem.
But how come that STEM movement has spread to liberal arts? What is the connection between these opposite disciplines? STEM has overstepped the limits of its subject areas and set efficient learning approaches that any subject and grade can share. Here are 7 lessons which we can learn from STEM philosophy to raise a generation of talents.
Setting real-time challenges
All STEM lessons focus on real-world issues and problems. A student faces authentic social, environmental, and economic problems and thus, can bring qualitative solutions. This approach emphasizes the necessity to use not artificial examples or simulations but real-world case studies. It means that learning should be based on the real-time experience. For instance, if a student is assigned to write an essay, he should deal with an authentic topic and a database of academic papers accomplished by real students. It is crucial to use the real-time challenge and not imitation of reality. A teacher of Engineering Alexander Pancic points out in her interview “…life isn’t like that. You encounter real-life problems and have to figure out, what do I need to know? How can I find out? And then, how do I apply it?”.
Providing hands-on learning and experience
Among all benefits of STEM education, this one brings the most efficiency to our classrooms. First of all, any student becomes a player in the field of a particular study. The learner feels engaged and important in this process because he doesn’t have to memorize or just cram a set of answers. Students are allowed to observe, interpret events, and make their own responses. The STEM approach makes it even more difficult for a student. It forces to question the gained results and responses. Here is an example of step-by-step STEM practices you can apply to your subject and enhance critical thinking of your students.
Creating teamwork to achieve the multitude of right solutions
Teachers like to repeat that there is no universal formula applicable to all cases. Yet it’s not about this STEM lesson of establishing teamwork in your classes even if you teach Creative Writing. An effective collaboration and problem-solving can help students find their own voice and bring out multiple solutions of the same problem. Keep in mind that each problem and the process of generating ideas should have constraints. They will urge a student to find the most relevant solution.
The use or creation of technology
Technology isn’t limited to digital gadgets solely. In STEM education technology is everything created to solve a particular problem. So, when a learner develops an essay he’s supposed to use the technology of academic writing, its styles and subject requirements. Science and Arts disciplines demand creation from students and what stands behind it is technology. It is also called engineering design process. It involves several stages from setting up a problem to a succession of solutions through mistakes, failures, and self-corrections.
Stem education is all about relevant data. And the task of each teacher is encouraging a learner to back up his ideas with reliable data from studies and researches. Students should not only know how to search but analyze and check the reliability of available information. Thus, the foremost goal of any teacher is to show how to process data and drive more interest to this stage. With STEM methodology, a teacher can inspire young people to achieve more using their mode of thinking and the researched data.
Failures lead to the qualitative learning
A teacher can actually increase the students’ performance after he learns to accept their mistakes and failures. It’s essential to encourage students not to stumble upon a problem when they get to the dead end. The main STEM principle is bringing up as many solutions of a single issue through a succession of errors. The more tries your student makes and fails to find an answer the more problem-solving skills he or she uses.
Here are more instructional strategies from a National Teacher of the Year. This video presents vivid examples on how to raise problem solvers through STEM methodology.
Fostering natural desire to discover
The successful adoption of STEM practices depends on the students’ interests in their discovery. The results they can achieve through contemplating and testing spur students on to deeper research. Therefore, it is so important to foster the desire to discover new solutions through failures and confusing assumptions. Show your student that one developed idea or prototype should get through testing to get the status of “appropriate”. Encourage researching skills through guidance and usage of various tools for STEM learning.
The lessons we’ve described in this article are more like insights into STEM education. Hence, to adopt some particular methods of learning you need to cooperate with STEM instructors. Ask your colleagues to share their experience since all subjects are interconnected and thus, can supplement one another.