If you haven’t heard the acronym STEM in school by now, you will. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These four subjects have been grouped together to enable schools and policy makers to make more of a focused effort to promote them. But what does that mean for students and parents? Well, the idea is to improve our competitiveness in scientific study and in the development of new technologies. The end goal is to make students more desirable in the global job market and to establish a new curriculum that ties these related fields together. Many people strongly feel that the best jobs of the future will be in STEM fields.
So how do we familiarize ourselves with STEM and how can we benefit from it? Here are a few basic ideas on how to incorporate STEM into your life or your classroom:
- Students of any age will benefit from following the scientific method. The scientific method is a series of steps followed in order to answer a question. It helps students to think analytically, research information, form their own theories and ideas, test those theories out, record data and interpret their results. The best thing about the scientific method is that the steps are so straightforward that even the very youngest of scientists can do it with some assistance. Here are the steps:
- Think of a science question you want to discover the answer to.
- Do background research on the question to familiarize yourself with the subject. What does the information lead you to believe?
- Form a hypothesis. A hypothesis is your best guess on what will happen during the experiment. Now that you have done some research, what do you think is the answer to your question?
- Test your theory with an experiment. Record data to help you determine the end result.
- Analyze the data and information that you have discovered during your experiment. Draw a conclusion. What did you learn? Was your hypothesis correct? If not, why not?
- Engineering is, at its core, solving problems. Some examples of engineering include determining the best materials to build something out of so that it will be strong, keeping an egg safe when it is dropped to the ground, getting water to a village that is in a drought. Engineers can also take an idea and try to improve upon it. Is there something in your life that doesn’t work quite the way you hoped? Look at the problem critically and see if you can come up with a solution!
- Go beyond basic computer skills. Computers are not just for surfing the web, playing games, or writing a paper. Learn how to write your own program! Use a website like org to learn basic coding and let your imagination run wild. If you could create an app, what would it do? Would it be something that helps people or something just for fun? There is plenty of software out there where you can do just that! One that some of my students have used is appypie.
- People don’t often realize how often we really do use math. Find everyday ways to make it more fun. For example, you can learn fractions while baking a cake, money while on a shopping trip, measuring while building a piece of furniture, and advanced math to figure out currency conversions.
I hope you take these ideas and run with them! Let me know how you incorporate STEM into your studies, I would love to hear about it!