- Children learn how to apply science, technology, engineering, and math to everyday life scenarios, making them innovators and problem solvers. Children who have STEM education are forward thinkers.
- STEM is different from our current education system in that STEM is a hands-on, blending learning environment where kids see what they’re doing can be applied to everyday life scenarios. It prepares them for a successful future where they can problem solve using critical thinking skills.
- There are 4 top benefits of STEM. STEM doesn’t discriminate, it’s designed for all children regardless of socioeconomic status or IQ. It keeps children engaged to the point they’re retaining information as much as 20% higher than there peers. It’s a structured play where teachers provide open-ended questions allowing kids to explore and learn from mistakes. Lastly, STEM is skill based too. Kids will develop communication skills effectively which are just as important as technical knowledge in a particular field or academic subject.
If we as parents aren’t educated on the importance of STEM, we won’t push our kids to become educated in STEM. As we learn more ourselves about what STEM is and what it means for the future of our children, we can then provide better STEM education for them.
What is STEM
STEM is a type of education that is based on hands-on learning and interactive teamwork. It shapes a child into a well-rounded adult with a proper balance in IQ and emotional intelligence (EQ). Children learn how to apply science, technology, engineering, and math to everyday life scenarios, making them innovators and problem solvers. Children who have STEM education are forward thinkers.
That sounds like something we so desperately need in our world today. STEM is about learning how to use what we have around us to solve problems. It’s a mixture of creativity and practicality.
This blog goes into more detail on what STEM is.
Children who are seen as advanced as compared to their classmates are practicing their skills at home, the learning doesn’t stop in school. According to this article, only one-quarter of all K-12 schools in the U.S. offer computer science and coding classes.
The key to a successful introduction to STEM is to have the majority of your toys and activities at home STEM certified. You’re probably thinking CHA-CHINNGGG, but don’t fret. In fact, this blog goes into different ways on how to have STEM toys and education at home. Odds are you already have some.
The second part of the equation is to set up an environment that is STEM friendly, read this blog on how to reduce screen time.
Another worry you probably have is that you don’t know much about STEM, but you don’t have to be the expert. Check out this section to learn more.
If I had to sum up what STEM is…
STEM’s core values teach children to:
- Properly communicate: Learn how to efficiently communicate problems and solutions effectively
- Develop empathy: Understand social cues, body language, and how to respond appropriately
- Critically think: Apply this skill to all different scenarios
- Be a leader: With a balance in knowing when to participate as a team member
- Learn from failure: Children don’t give up, they work through their problems mistakes to be successful
Current Education vs STEM
In the USA, each state sets their own educational standards and play a big part in structuring and funding public schools, there are wide variations in both how schools run, and the standards that they attain.
General curriculum The curriculum is set on a state and county level but is broad, covering basic skills in math and reading, physical education and in some cases, languages.
The curriculum in middle school remains broad, covering math, science, English, social studies, art, and PE.
In high school core subjects are taken by all students, with ‘elective’ subjects selected by the individual to make up the full timetable.
Middle school education varies enormously from place to place, both in terms of structure and quality. Most publicly funded schools offer places based on the residence of the student, with those living closer favored. However, there are also specialist and vocational schools which accept students under different terms, regardless of where the family lives.
- The 2010 ACT College and Career Readiness report found only 29% of the tested 2010 graduates are considered college-ready in science and 43% are considered college-ready in math.
- 25 years ago, the U.S. led the world in high school and college graduation rates. Today, the U.S. has dropped to 20th and 16th.
- Other nations are racing to establish dominance in STEM areas for further technological advancement. Russia is building an “innovation city” outside of Moscow. Saudi Arabia has a new university for science and engineering with a $10 billion endowment. China is creating new technology universities by the dozens and has replaced the U.S. as the world’s top high technology exporter. Singapore has invested more than a billion dollars to make that country a medical science hub and attract the world’s best talent.
- The U.S. is no longer the “Colossus of Science,” dominating the research landscape in the production of scientific papers, that it was 30 years ago. In 1981, U.S. scientists fielded nearly 40 percent of research papers in the most influential journals. By 2009, that figure had shrunk to 29 percent.
- Children are restless and labeled ADHD with other behavioral problems too quickly as they sit for the majority of the day. They are forced to memorize rather than learn deeply about a subject.
- According to research, “Students who use deep approaches to learning(STEM) tend to perform better as well as retain, integrate, and transfer information at higher rates than students using surface approaches to student learning.”
- Tailored to each child’s level and allows learning at their own pace. It’s not a one size fits all approach.
- Relevant to real-world problems.
- The earlier children are introduced, the more likely they will be prepared for school and future careers. That’s because will understand how to tackle a problem without being frustrated to the point of giving up.
- Includes creativity. Open-ended questions allow kids to practice using the skills they are learning individually. This approach is often the best way to exercise students’ creativity and provide opportunities for students to try out their skills.
- Feeds the natural cravings of every child’s want to discover and explore. They analyze everything, from picking up toys, asking questions, seeing how things work and so forth.
- It’s a structured play which gives kids freedom with boundaries. Boundaries are important for children and so is structure. However, too much structure is a recipe for disaster for children who are meant to learn hands-on.
Live science said it well, “What separates STEM from the traditional science and math education is the blended learning environment and showing students how the scientific method can be applied to everyday life. It teaches students computational thinking and focuses on the real-world applications of problem-solving.”
Importance of STEM
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education combines the core academic disciplines with the technical challenges of mastering skills in these learning areas. These are purposely put together as the essentials for the development of critical thinking, creativity, engineering design process, and problem-solving skills.
Teaching STEM to younger students addresses the same skill areas and reinforces a strong focus on curiosity(daycare and pre-school), exploration (Kindergarten to Year 1) and wonder (Years 2 to 4) in the world.
STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. This innovation and science literacy depends on a solid knowledge base in the STEM areas. It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science-10-year employment projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that of the 20 fastest-growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation.
Creativity in class structure promotes innovative thinking in your students. When you put a spotlight on project-based learning – which is common in STEM – you provide opportunities for authentic growth and development.
Here are 4 benefits of STEM:
Hands down, one of the best philosophers was Aristotle. He wrote, “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”. I couldn’t agree more!
Curriculum today is lacking relevance and interest in developing minds. When students are actively engaged in an activity, they are more likely to retain the information later on as much as 20% higher than their friends who are not actively engaged. That makes it a successful learning experience that they enjoy too.
Which brings them to want to continue to learn and that’s hard enough these days. STEM education makes it easy. They must do, produce, and accomplish when completing a STEM activity.
Skill-based learning teaches our kids how to think through a problem and to practice and work through these new set of skills using real-world applications. Your child will have the ability to think abstractly and approach problems from multiple angles to find practical solutions. STEM education will give them the skill to communicate clearly and effectively which are just as important as technical knowledge in a particular field or academic subject.
Life skills provide children with important tools for development, such as independent thinking, how to socialize and make new friends, and how to take action in situations where their parents or teachers may not be around to help.
3. Structured Play
Structured play is teacher-centered, guided by the teacher or parent. The teacher sets guidelines based on academic content or social skills. The teacher takes control of the play environment by structuring it in such a way that guides students to learn the specific content.
Benefits of structured play (Free Play and Structured Play, 2014):
- Cooperative skills
- Following directions
- Geared toward specific learning content
When STEM is the basis of the curriculum, teachers/parents don’t give answers to STEM activities. They ask open-ended questions and promote the process, as it’s more important than the end product.
An example would be to do an activity that requires children to solve a problem. Kids are curious and problem solvers by nature, so it is really fun to tap into that.
STEM education is important for our kids.
Why? It breaks socioeconomic boundaries that our society has created.
Plus, STEM education can be tailored to every child at any level. Guess why you will love STEM education even more…
It helps bridge the ethnic and gender gaps sometimes found in math and science fields. Initiatives have been established to increase the roles of women and minorities in STEM-related fields.
The only thing that I feel the need to point out is that, it’s important to start as early as possible. By the time our children are in middle school, it’s sometimes too late for them to understand the concept and it is more likely they’ll get frustrated and avoid science and math heavy classes.
Plus, between birth to age 5, this is known as the most critical point in neurological or brain development. If it’s not fed and introduced then, it is more likely to be lost as the brain develops certain pathways on how to think, it gets comfortable.
With that said, we are always able to continue learning and break bad habits, so if your child is in elementary school, it’s not too late!
Now that you know why STEM is so important, read this blog to see what you can do at home.
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