What is STEM?
Innovation and Technology in the Classroom
STEM is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that incorporates the fields of science, engineering, math, and technology, to enable students to use collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication to solve problems in challenging and innovative ways. Teachers can provide STEM lessons and activities within their own classroom, in addition to having an additional special within a STEM lab and taught by a technology or STEM teacher. The core component of a STEM project or activity is that it follows the engineering design process in which students are given a problem to solve and must use this process to find their own unique solution.
What is the Engineering Design Process?
As learners, the most effective way to understand a concept is through authentic and real-world application of a given problem or challenge. Students can learn through "doing", rather than seeing or hearing. The engineering design process takes this into account by providing problem-based learning for students. Each lesson begins with a question or a problem to solve. Students are then asked to follow a specific process by imagining the ways they can solve this problem, designing their creation, evaluating its effectiveness, and then improving anything that did not work. Students repeat this process, knowing that there can always be innovative ways to update and revise their design.
What does Innovation and Technology do for a Classroom?
Instead of teachers viewing technology as it's own subject, it needs to be embraced as a "skill set" or a way of approaching something being learned. This way students are able to construct knowledge in every subject, and technology is a tool used to help deepen this learning. When technology is used to deepen content knowledge, it paves the way for innovation within the classroom. With the use of technology, students are able to use their knowledge to not only create something new, they are able to share this with the world around them. This communication and collaboration can bring new ideas to the project, and students are able to use their creativity and critical thinking skills to improve what they have done.
Why will STEM and Problem-Based Learning Help our Students?
According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, "STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%." STEM careers hold higher incomes than other fields, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play are vital in sustaining the growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and helps ensure that the U.S. is a world leader in technology and innovation. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and ensures new generations of these innovators. Only through innovation can we continue to develop new products and processes that sustain our economy. Innovation and science literacy depends on a solid knowledge base in the STEM areas, so that our students can compete in this rapidly growing technical world.
What Does STEM look like in a school?
NASA Resources Enrich STEM Curricula Full-Speed Reform in Georgia School
(Forest Lake Elementary, Columbia, SC)
School Website: https://www.richland2.org/fle
Sakai-Miller, S. (2016). Innovation age learning: Empowering students by empowering teachers. International Society for Technology in Education.
Lehmann, C., & Chase, Z. (2015). Building school 2.0: How to create the schools we need. John Wiley & Sons.