As parents, it can be a challenge to understand how education has changed, is changing, or will change in the future. Even though we have all taken science or math courses in our lifetime, we likely have not taken any STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses. STEM fields drive innovation to create new products and processes that sustain our nation’s economy and keep it competitive globally.
What STEM Education Looks Like
To assume that STEM courses revolve around taking a traditional science and math course, a computer class for technology, and a design course for engineering, you’d be mistaken. There is so much more to what goes into these science, technology, engineering, and math courses. If you were to think about it, one way or another, we are all designers. We design our wardrobe, our home décor, and our meals. We get from here to there, both in reality and figuratively, to discover “the best” way based on assumptions and parameters. That’s what STEM education brings to students; it incorporates problem-solving skills into these fields.
How is STEM education Shaping our Children’s Future
Modern-day classrooms, whether in traditional brick-and-mortar schools or online schools are embracing new technology to educate children. These tools have become vital when it comes to teaching STEM topics. Online instruction, instructional videos, and coaching courses have become new tools for teachers.
“It’s never too early to start. Even in pre-K and kindergarten students, particularly young girls and students of color. Technology isn’t something that’s only for high school-aged students, it can start very early, and it’s important to do so,” said Dr. Mary Corvo, deputy executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board.
STEM Subjects and the Impact on the Job Market
The career landscape is much different than just a few years ago. Today, workers need technology skills along with specialized skills associated with a particular trade or industry. This shift in the job market shows that students will require technical skills to get into college and excel in their chosen careers.
“It’s not just for getting jobs; it’s also for living everyday life. We all negotiate apartments, houses, and transportation. All these issues require us to make important technological decisions every day. So it’s really essentially that our kids today learn about the STEM field so that they can be responsible workers, citizens, and consumers in tomorrow’s society,” said Dr. Cary Sneider, an associate research professor at Portland State University and a consultant for STEM Next.
Studies have shown that the job market is changing, and there is a growing need for people with high-and medium-tech capabilities. Another report suggests that nearly 40% of workers said they lacked digital skills, negatively impacting an organization’s performance.
How Students Can Learn STEM Through Activities
Try to gain a competitive advantage on the playing field through STEM. While many think education and sports are separate worlds, the two can often come together by integrating physics and sports. Students can calculate a baseball’s trajectory through trigonometry and the angle the ball is thrown and struck will change each time.
Bring the classroom home and try out an easy experiment. Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing; at-home experiments will help supplement what they learn in the classroom. These activities are great for the cold weather when you don’t want to go outside. Using household products or some of your children’s toys, you can build and launch a rocket ship, start a garden, build a bridge, and learn about weight. Even making cookies or bread can be considered a science experiment when working with fractions and the different ingredients that have chemical reactions when mixed together.
Augmented and mixed reality can be used with STEM subjects in hundreds of different ways. Virtual reality is helping students, even those at a young age, plant seeds of curiosity. Educators across the country are using VR to teach students engineering skills by allowing them to design a racetrack in virtual reality. There are also dozens of apps that connect to virtual reality consoles and take students back to the Jurassic period to learn about paleontology; into outer space to learn about astronomy; or to a lab to simulate a chemistry experience in your own home.