Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths, collectively known as STEM, are the four primary academic disciplines currently responsible for driving the entire world’s economy and maintaining our general well-being. Therefore, for children to become the leaders of tomorrow, it is important for them to become proficient in these fields, besides possessing critical thinking abilities, knowledge of engineering design processes, a high creativity quotient and problem solving skills. When taught to children early on in their lives, STEM can instil in them a healthy interest in not just gathering knowledge about predefined subjects, but even in exploring, questioning, and discovering everything they cannot understand.
As a result, STEM has found application in a wide variety of industries and job roles including aerospace engineering, astrophysics, biochemistry, chemical and civil engineering, computer science, nanotechnology, robotics, and more. It is very interesting to also observe how schools have started incorporating this discipline effectively and efficiently in their curriculums.
Here are some practical advantages of STEM education which give it a clear edge over other conventional modes of education.
STEM education utilises a framework of embodied learning by means of practical, application based teaching, which aids in effectively developing the decision making and strategising skills of children. It also improves spatial cognition and reasoning skills, helping find application in several fields like mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, and the geosciences. The use of embedded instructions makes it easier to engage learners and command their attention to de-contextualised information placed in a meaningful situation. This helps create a rich sensory experience that speeds up learning, deepens engagement, improves focus attention, and generates genuine excitement.
STEM helps incorporate industry defined skills, talents, and specialisations in children, so they can pursue the careers which are most in demand currently. As a result, it helps working professionals define their own roles and career outcomes and meet the demand graph in international domains. At GIIS Chinchwad, we understand that children need to be wired for skill development that will be required after a decade when they step out into the formal workspace. Running a programme that compliments the skill development in the STEM learning space has not only activated my faculty towards a new paradigm of learning but has beautifully involved my students to engage meaningfully.
Engineering For Kids, America’s award winning learning programme and the STEM programme followed by Global Indian International School (GIIS), Chinchwad, makes learning fun with the help of Kelvin, the mascot for the programme, who is loved and adored by kids. It requires equal participation from teachers and parents, as the latter must also encourage their children to pursue STEM activities and increase awareness and interest at home and in extracurricular activities, of the merits of STEM education. Some of the ways in which we at GIIS Chinchwad highlight STEM learning are:
- By being integrated into the curriculum, Engineering For Kids has helped them enhance their problem solving skills, discover how things work, explore engineering as a career option, engage in real world engineering problems, promote critical thinking, improve creativity, collaboration, communication, and more.
- By creating a fun environment, it helps students explore the concepts of building and construction through hands-on exploration and design, with practical knowledge of the engineering behind skyscrapers, bridges, roads, and more.
- Through Environmental Engineering classes, the Engineering Design Process helps design, create, test, and refine basic solutions related to alternative energy and environmental issues, and learn the principles behind crafting efficient wind-powered machines and discover how those machines can be used to help reduce the use of fossil fuels.
- Through a side-scrolling, Super Mario-like platform game, students can program characters and a two-dimensional obstacle course, where they attempt to avoid or overcome enemies and reach an end goal on multiple levels.
- As part of the Master Robotics Engineering for grade 6 to 8 students, the LEGO® Rescue EnviroBots programme allows students to design and program robots to help accomplish environmentally friendly tasks, such as transferring nuclear waste, mining raw minerals, delivering food and goods, and learning how to contribute to a more sustainable environment.
As a result of its rising popularity and applicability in the world industry, several countries, including Australia, United Kingdom, The United States, New Zealand, and India have adopted STEM education. Teachers are also being trained to conduct learning modules and workshops based on the STEM principles, using interactive, easily identifiable scenarios and situations. This has helped build an education system that not only revolves around teaching students a predefined set of disciplines and subjects, but rather, knowledge they can actually use in the real world and throughout their lives, thereby paving way to a better future for all.
Authored by Dr. Amrita Vohra, principal, Global Indian International School, Chinchwad.