The schools in the United States are driven by the clock. As the bell rings to signify the end of class, students get up and move on to the next subject. STEM-focused education seeks to provide students with the tools they need to integrate these subjects allowing them to be prepared for their future in the twenty-first century. That is the primary difference between schools that utilize STEM programs versus STEM education.
WHY USE STEM?
With each given year, technology expands and changes exponentially and our schools are struggling to keep up. We teach Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in abstract ways. This makes it difficult for students to apply them outside of the classroom. STEM education strives to equip students with the knowledge and skills to integrate each of these core subjects.
We want our students to prepare for life and work outside of written quizzes and tests. The marriage of theory and practice in a classroom setting sets up our students for past, present, and future learning. This practical application of STEM subjects gives students from all backgrounds a better chance of success after high school.
As IT jobs continue to be outsourced, job opportunities for our students diminish. By using STEM in our schools, we equip students to move into these positions. Educators and parents need to understand the importance of the growing technology around us. From 5G networks to augmented reality, what are we doing to prepare students for these fields?
STEM seeks to use problem-based learning in the classroom. While it integrates each of the core subjects, students work together in groups to solve problems utilizing each of their own strengths. Problem-solving skills are essential when preparing for real-world situations.
ARE STEM PROGRAMS ENOUGH?
Some schools are able to start up STEM programs with money provided by federal funding or something like the Perkins fund. Many times passionate teachers encourage the start-up of STEM programs. These programs occur before or after school and this limits the number of students that benefit from them. If we want our students to gain STEM careers after high school, we must look at our education from a broader perspective. While programs can benefit the few that attend them, a STEM-focused education will provide opportunities for more students.
Administrators and superintendents who desire to branch out into a more STEM-focused education must do so with their teachers in mind. Teachers have a focused field that they majored in and we must be careful not to undermind them as we shift the focus of our school. The goal is to get teachers and classes to integrate so students can see how each of the STEM subjects along with Arts (STEAM) work together. This gives them practical help that prepares them for the advancing world in which we live. Encourage your teachers with the thought that this shift will help impact your students beyond the here and now and will ultimately affect our nation and the world. Let your students know that no matter where their educational strengths lie, they are most certainly capable in science and math.
You can lead the way in your school by showing the practicality of STEM education. Programs are not enough. For marginalized students, this gives them the opportunity they need to succeed in the world. Be the change in your school and help your students prepare for the rapid changes of the twenty-first century.