When I look back on my early memories, I’m astounded at how quickly technology has progressed in such a short time. The only phone in our house was mounted on the wall and attached to a cord. We had a home computer, but it was a clunky thing that only served for doing taxes and playing solitaire. If there was a particular piece of information you wanted to learn, you didn’t fire up the internet, you cracked open an encyclopedia. The world has certainly changed, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down!

Science, technology, engineering, and math are blazing a trail through modern society. As educators, we understand that our students will need to have a solid grasp on STEM if they’re to navigate the world of tomorrow. Who knows what new technology or scientific breakthroughs are waiting just around the corner? For students to be ready, our lessons need to convey a solid understanding of STEM principals while also being memorable, meaningful, and fun! So, how do we ensure that the methodology behind our activities is being properly communicated?

Starting Your STEM

We can begin by sitting down and assessing our STEM programs. As you review the tools, resources, and lessons at your disposal, here are a few questions to ask:

Is the Learning Hands-on? We all know that most students don’t want to sit and listen to a lecture. They want to get involved and actively learn it. As you plan your next STEM experience, make sure to incorporate hands-on activities that engage every student. When hands are occupied with tools and tasks, minds will be actively thinking as well.

Is Collaboration a Factor? We should always strive to make teamwork and essential part of STEM. After all, this is how it functions in the real world. A space shuttle cannot have a successful launch without a team of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers working together. Nearly every employer wants people who get along, work together, and share ideas. Get kids prepared by introducing cooperation and collaboration early.

Is There Room for Failure? Mistakes are an essential part of education. We learn through iteration. Trying, testing, failing, starting over with new data and a new hypothesis. A good STEM experience takes this principle to heart by regularly sending students back to their work for reflection and refinement. Not only will this prepare them for the real world, but it will also foster perseverance.

Is it Cross-Curricular? Every effective STEM program involves science, technology, engineering, and math (that’s what STEM stands for after all). However, it’s all too easy for these subjects to get siloed. Students will start to see them separately when all knowledge is interconnected. Good STEM shows students how math can influence healthy nutrition. How science and vocabulary are tied together, and much, much more.

The World of Tomorrow

We may not know what the future holds, but we can ensure students have the skills to meet it when it arrives. By effectively combining hands-on, iterative STEM experiences with student curiosity and creativity, teachers can unlock student potential and foster a growth mindset for years to come. So, let’s get to work, there’s so much out there for our classrooms to discover!

*Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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