Don’t just teach your kids to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything. George Carlin
One question that I have received from parents, educators and school administrators repeatedly is how early does one begin to incorporate STEM education into students’ curriculum in order to match up to the demands of 21st century. My response back always is; catch them young!
First a quick recap, just last week one of my readers asked me what STEM education stood for; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics infused together to make learning more relevant to real world problems.
For a nation to be economically prosperous, science and technology must be elevated as priorities.
Thoughts of STEM education, conjure up high school students taking chemistry and algebra courses, not third graders and multiplication. Yet we fail to realize that without the foundation of multiplication tables in the third grade; there would be no algebra or chemistry. All it takes some tweaking the younger ones curriculum and voila, its a STEM-based curriculum.
Why catch them young?
Myriads of studies show that children who are exposed to STEM education early on are better equipped in comprehending STEM concepts later on as they progress through school.
It is to our advantage to integrate STEM lessons early into their daily curriculum to advance the ability of children to develop stronger understanding of STEM skills, as well as boost future interest.
Remember it is in our best interest to encourage STEM education because the job growth rate for STEM careers is more than 38 percent and growing rapidly, plus STEM careers are highly paid ones.
Integrating STEM into your Curriculum
Some of the skills that STEM produces is logical thinking and creative thinking. Begin with inquiry based learning, change how you ask students questions. Use STEM based vocabulary with words such as experiments, model, to name a few. Teach students to incorporate educational technology like iPads, computers and even cell phones into learning. Technology is integral to STEM education, and when students have access to technology, it only better prepares them for the future.
Hands on learning
Real-world learning begins with hands-on activities.
To maximize this for students;
- Pinpoint a real-world problem.
- Ask questions to investigate the problem (and possibly solve the problem).
- Obtain solutions.
Recently during a training, I demonstrated how cleaning up a make believe oil spill would be a great lesson for our elementary school students. Involve them in the need for a cleaner environment for their health and future. Ask them for their suggestions on how to eliminate waste. Let them use technology as part of their research or for a resource. Ask challenging questions and have students engage in logical reasoning to develop solutions for the real-world situation.
To cover the engineering section, have students design or construct a solution to the problem.
The math cohort would be their interpreting their data. Ensure that you connect a STEM career to whatever real-world problem you ask students to solve. When discussing pollution be sure to emphasize that individuals who work on this issue are scientists, and so on.
Catching them young begins with developing and eliciting interest when students are young. Planning lessons and interactions for students can make the difference in creating productive STEM learning environments.
To foster future readiness for our students, it is critical we begin to plant the seeds today that will make them successful for tomorrow.
More questions about STEM? Or Implementation strategies?
Share them in the comment section or send me an email.
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.