Education today has largely come to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, abbreviated as STEM learning. The emphasis on STEM certainly is an appreciable move, considering its benefits.
Benefits of STEM learning:
Helps stay relevant- The need of education has undergone a sea change. While the knowledge gained through education continues to be important, it is also necessary that you have the skills and information needed to become a successful part of the workspace. Also with newer technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning coming in, many of the jobs existent earlier are becoming redundant; self-driven cars are just an example. To stay relevant in this changing scenario it is necessary that students stay abreast with latest developments in technology, think critically and creatively and have the skills necessary to innovate. STEM learning makes this possible.
Enhances understanding of the world- Contrary to what students might initially believe, STEM is not removed from real-life. Even if one were not to take a career in it, the learning still becomes important to be better able to understand the world around. Environmental changes, financial matters, computing skills, proficiency in many sports, everything requires the knowledge of STEM.
Develops 21st century skills- 21st century skills include critical thinking, algorithmic thinking, creativity, collaboration, etc. All of these are necessary for success in today’s highly competitive world. In the process of STEM learning, students are required to engage in complex problem-solving which involves the exercise of the skills stated above. As such, STEM learning boosts the development of 21st century skills.
How can you teach STEM in the class?
For students to learn the nuances of STEM, it is important they have a strong theoretical as well as practical understanding of the subjects. Following are some ways in which you can help your students become confident learners of STEM:
Audiovisuals- To supplement textbooks, you can use audiovisual modules of concepts to engage your students better. Care should be taken that the modules are not very lengthy, but are designed keeping in mind students’ attention span.
Simulation and virtual activities- There are some concepts which might be difficult to explain in words; synthesis of proteins for instance. Simulations should be used for such concepts to help students visualise the concepts and processes better.
Further, often students lack a fluency in conducting the experiments, since their practise is limited to the limited lab hours. Virtual experiment modules can prove beneficial in this regard. Students can try their hands on the experiments and keep practising until they perfect them.
Hands-on activities- Understanding remains incomplete if students are well-versed in theory but are unable to
translate their knowledge into solving practical problems. Hands-on activities are effective ways to address this lack. By engaging in individual or collaborative activities, students can understand if they need to improve upon a specific concept. These activities also help in developing the essential 21st century skills.
To read the article on which this opinion piece is based, click https://www.simplek12.com/stem/stem-education/