STEM skills open the door to a wide variety of exciting career paths including some of the highest paid and most in-demand jobs in the county. What’s more, the demand for STEM graduates is only set to grow. STEM education is a fantastic way to bring 21st-century skills into the classroom and foster in our children a long-term interest in these subjects. It helps children to develop their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills through solving practical, real world problems. What’s more, it promotes critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and perseverance; skills that are used throughout our lives.
The question is:
Is your school doing enough to promote STEM education?
If the answer is no, don’t fret! I’ve put together five ideas to get you started. I’ve made sure they’re quick and easy to implement so you can have them set up for the new academic year.
1. Read STEM books with your class
It’s easy to underestimate the influence of a book on a child’s understanding of the world. Stories help to shape children’s perspectives and form their understanding of cultural and gender roles. What better way to teach the importance of STEM skills than through a book? There are lots of fantastic fiction books around that your class will love. Books with female lead characters are a great way to subtly raise the profile of women in STEM. Check out some of our book recommendations here.
Your Challenge: Order a selection of STEM books and aim to read at least one a week with your class.
2. Make use of STEM apps
Instead of battling to get children away from screens, it’s time we embraced this love for technology and made more use of it in the classroom. There are lots of fantastic, free STEM apps to download onto school iPads. What’s more, most come with tutorial levels, meaning you don’t need to be a computer whizz to work out how to use them. Check out our STEM apps section for inspiration here.
Your Challenge: Give your ICT technician a list of apps you’d like downloaded and plan to use them with your class next term.
3. Introduce 15min STEM
The aim of 15min STEM activities is to be quick, easy to resource and educational. Each activity is short (15mins to be precise!) so you don’t need to worry too much about matching it to learning objectives or juggling it into the school timetable. Not only does each activity introduce children to an area of STEM, they will also encourage them to work collaboratively in order to solve a problem. You can find our 15min STEM activities here.
Your Challenge: Try a 15min STEM challenge with your class each week.
4. Have a go at project based learning
There’s a real buzz around Project Based Learning. Put simply, it’s all about giving children extended time to respond to a problem set within a real world context. We believe this approach goes hand in hand with STEM learning. For example, teach a science unit on ‘evolution’ with a dinosaur footprint discovery in the school grounds. The children will need to work collaboratively to explore what created the footprint, how it got there and how it differs from their own. Over the next few months, we will be adding lots of PBL ideas to our website. Check out our ‘digs and dinos’ area as an example here.
Your Challenge: Plan a PBL stem opportunity for next term.
5. Involve the school community
Teachers try our best but unfortunately, we can’t be experts in everything. Sometimes the best way to bring a subject to life is to place our class in the hands of someone with real world experience in that area. You’d be amazed how of many parents and carers within your school community have STEM experience. Why then do we have a tendency to keep these people at arm’s length? Spread the word and you’ll most likely find volunteers willing to lead workshops or q&a sessions linked to their career.
Your Challenge: Distribute a letter to parents, asking for volunteers to work with classes (you may want to link this to the particular areas of STEM you are studying). Then take them up on the offer!