How STEM Subjects Will Shape the Future:  Broadening Interest

How STEM Subjects Will Shape the Future: Broadening Interest

STEM – Natural for Some, Not For Others

This post will explore how STEM subjects will shape the future.

STEM and Self-Esteem are challenges for some even while they realize how STEM subjects will shape the future

STEM and Self-Esteem are challenges for some even while they realize how STEM subjects will impact the future

What is STEM?  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  Subjects that help the world go round.

Some kids very naturally gravitate to these subjects, with their inborn curiosity. Others are put off by or afraid of STEM.

The very idea of math or science in the United States today is off-putting and sometimes frightening to some.  Many who study in these areas in our top universities and colleges come from – and often go back to – other countries.

How can we grow and develop our students better, to compete in world markets throughout their lifetimes?  Most of us are aware of how STEM subjects will shape the future…How can we help more of our kids be creative innovators and work with and compete in STEM?

STEM Lagging in US

In the United States, our overall performance in STEM subjects lags behind many other countries.  It is a concern for our competitiveness in the world markets, and for the futures of our children. There are things we can do about it…in our schools and in your home.

One reason can be that they just do not see the purpose of learning math or technology and how STEM subjects will shape the future for them and for our world. Another can be a fear of failure.

STEM and Self-Esteem

Being successful is important to kids, due to their parental accolades for success, to grades in school, to peer approval. Failure can often result in lower self-esteem.

Adding Art to STEM with Library Maker Spaces opens up exploration to those not naturally drawn into STEM investigation and learning.

More STEAM helps More kids learn STEM It adds an element of practical (or impractical!) application that can capture the imagination for those who are not attracted with a native curiosity about the science itself.

The real-world applications of design thinking is not only attractive to more students, but also provides more in-depth mastery of the content.  Less failure, and less fear.

Having STEAM educational approaches invites experimentation and innovation. By definition, experimentation is a learning and growing and discovering process.

Each experiment that does not work is not a failure so much as the elimination of one of a whole series of possibilities. That removes risk to the ego and self-image for a child.

Future Jobs Will Require Talents Learned with STEAM – How STEM Subjects Will Shape the Future

Learning with collaboration and interactionIn addition, top STEM education involves a lot of collaboration and social interaction.

In a 2014 study done by the America Society of Engineering Education found the following five essential elements to a top STEM educational system:

  • Teaching of high quality content
  • Meaningful and significant learning and use of the content by the students
  • Teaching that is student-centered and inquiry-based
  • Use of engineering design (read invention!) to solve engineering challenges
  • A safe learning environment of trial and error with collaboration and teamwork

These approaches to STEAM, drawing more students in, build lifelong characteristics that lead to entrepreneurialism, communication, problem-solving, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking skills. These are skills that lead to lifelong learning, and that give job-success impacts for careers.

STEM or STEAM controversySTEAM vs. STEM Controversy

There are those who fear that adding Art to STEM teaching will dilute rather than enhance STEM learning.

The argument that adding STEAM to attract more students to STEM subjects is a weak-sister approach of lowering the learning standards to appeal to the masses. To do this would reduce the content levels to the lowest common denominator, these pure STEM advocates argue.

It is certainly a possibility.

It depends, it seems to me, on how STEAM is done. If the Art component becomes 20% of the content, there will certainly be a dilution factor. I argue, if a student is looking for an art course, of or she should take an art course.

In fact, since No Child Left Behind legislation, Art has been ranked equal to math, science, reading and the like as a part of the desired core curriculum for all students. Having art courses available in the school systems is desirable, most people in the United States think.

Adding Art to STEM should be done to enhance the depth of learning, not to replace the content of the STEM courses. If that is done properly, there is no dilution factor, even while attracting in broader student interest.

Fab Labs in the SchoolsFab Lab or Maker Space Helps STEM learning

Fab Labs, a term coined at MIT, is another name for Maker Spaces. Library Maker Spaces are being added to school libraries more and more often.

A Library Maker Space is an area or lab where students can design solutions to science and engineering challenges using math, art and technology.

The components can range from very low-tech like scraps of fabric, plastic recyclables and cereal boxes, and basic drawing, paint and paper supplies to high tech like 3-D printers and Little Bits. Included in the mix are glue guns, scissors, saws, Lego, motors, knitting and crochet and weaving supplies, and masking tape. The possibilities are endless.

Lifelong learning attributes of connect cooperate innovate

STEAM Helps Get Into the “Hearts, Minds and Hands” of Learners

About 250 years ago a prominent educator named Pestalozzi said the best way to aid academic learning is to get into the “hearts, minds and hands” of learners.

With advances in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the subsequent years, there is more and more for children to learn.

The best way to have usable academic knowledge still remains the same as it was back in the 18th Century. Maker Spaces and STEAM are steps in the direction of building the character, the mastery of content and the needed process and skills for lifelong success we all want for our children.

If your child's school system does not have STEAM or a Maker Space, read how you can give your child some of the benefits of a Maker Space at home.  Making sure your child gets STEAM, at school and/or at home, will help him become to most he can be throughout his life.  That's what we want, isn't it, as parents and grandparents.

I hope this blog gives you some information to help to incorporate STEAM into your child's education.  Let me know how STEM and STEAM are doing in your schools, and what you are doing to help.  The more you do, the better off we will be.

how stem subjects will shape the future

 

 

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Published by Annie Collyer

Annie is a mom of four, a business owner and blogger. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, where they are both active volunteers in their community school district. She writes about designing our lives with proven design thinking principles. Join her in creating the life we each want.

  • Michelle says:

    Very interesting article, Annie. I am so for allowing the creativity of children to shine through. It is so sad that as we grow older, we seem to leave behind the things that enable our creativity.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Michelle

    • Hi Michelle, it is so wonderful how young children are at least initially impervious to criticism and judgment. Then as we sensitize to that, we lower our risk factors to the point that we get more and more unwilling to try something new. When we continue to foster creative thinking in kids, and rejuvenate it in adults, we re-train our brains to think creatively. That opens up possibility-thinking, design-your-life thinking. The good news is, we have that choice! Taking up painting is one way to re-create creative thinking!
      Thanks for visiting and sharing here, Michelle!

  • Brittaney Verkuyl says:

    I really think we need to take a longer look at what Art can do for our children. The biggest innovators used art as a base then took math and the rest of the STEM process to make our world better. The biggest thing we need to do for our kids is let their imaginations grow and teach us something new.

  • Paul says:

    Dear Annie,

    Thanks for the post and I got new insights via your post. Often my Math teacher said math is the mother of all sciences. We cannot insist on learning things very easily unless we build an interest in the subject. When we get that interest, we don’t need to insist, do we? The education system needs to be more friendly, rather threatening and pressurizing for our children.

    This is awesome “About 250 years ago a prominent educator named Pestalozzi said the best way to aid academic learning is to get into the “hearts, minds and hands” of learners.” About time we learned and implemented that, I agree!

    Your Friend,
    Paul

    • Isn’t it great, Paul, that we are finally adding the creativity and involvement that make learning engaging? As someone who is very involved in my local school district to help obtain improving outcomes for students, I am so gratified that this is happening.
      When it is not yet in your schools, you as parents and grandparents can help to bring that involvement and creativity in learning to your young learners. Home maker spaces really help.
      Annie

  • Paul says:

    Dear Annie,

    Thanks for the great advice and really helpful.

    Your Friend,
    Paul

    • Hi Paul,
      Knowledge of STEM subjects are really important in our world, and adding the Art component to make STEAM makes them accessible to more people. I am very grateful for the educational changes taking place, and encourage more parents and grandparents to 1- make sure STEAM is a part of their local public education, and 2- bring it into their homes with holiday and birthday gifts.

  • ariel says:

    Hello Annie, I just adore steam projects. To me they are what ties in the experiential to the ingraining of understanding. Because when kids do hands on it is their natural way of learning. In fact for me, it is my way to learn also.
    I think that STEAM projects are truly helpful when it is understood that it is not just about science but about using our brains in ways that help us to fully integrate new thoughts and ways of understanding concepts. And it allows kids to try new things, and new ways to explore the joy of learning.
    For me this is the height of great teaching and learning. Loved this article,
    in peace and gratitude, ariel

    • Thanks, Ariel. I so agree with you. My kids went to a Montessori pre-school and I got exposed to very positive hands-on-learning play activities for them way, way back. I am so glad to see more of it coming back with STEAM.
      Thanks for visiting and for your comments!
      Annie

  • Sue Dixon says:

    Hello Annie, You hit some incredible points with this article. I think too often the attitude is just to get kids through school and not much conscious effort is put into this kind of educational approach. Hands-on learning is crucial to how strongly kids can grasp the concepts presented to them.

    Informative and enlightening. Thank you, Annie.

  • minecraft says:

    I read this paragraph completely concerning the difference of latest and previous
    technologies, it’s amazing article.

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