STEM education is an important part of a school’s curriculum and has a huge impact on the way that children learn and develop.
This blog will explore everything you need to know about STEM education and learning, to help raise awareness of its importance and encourage others to implement it.
What is STEM?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and maths. However, rather than teaching the subjects separately, STEM education uses a combined approach to encourage and better equip students to consider careers within the industry.
Why is STEM important?
STEM is important in teaching children the skills that are essential to their development.
With the constant improvements and new developments in technology, it is becoming more important for children to learn skills such as computer programming and computational thinking as well as media literacy.
Furthermore, STEM encourages children to ask questions and solve real world problems, helping to prepare them for later education and adult life.
Benefits of STEM
STEM education has many benefits for children, such as:
STEM education encourages creativity and innovation, allowing new technologies, solutions and ideas to emerge.
The teaching of STEM not only helps children’s development and learning but also helps the population and planet to develop as well.
The teaching of STEM allows students to experiment and experience failure. Due to this, children become resilient through learning to get back up and try again.
STEM education doesn’t split children apart because of their varying education levels. Instead, it encourages children of all levels to work together to learn and develop new skills, while building a community that’s willing to learn new things.
Encourages use of technology
STEM teaches the power of technology and innovation, helping children learn various technologies. This will also promote adaptability, allowing children to take on challenges head on rather than hesitating or worrying about changes.
Impacts of early STEM education
Early STEM education helps children build various important skills that they may otherwise miss if they weren’t taught it.
Benefits of early STEM education include:
Hands on experience
It would be a mistake to think that STEM education only focuses on equations and complex experiments. It also focuses on hands-on experiences, providing a gateway into subjects like maths and science.
Early STEM teaching could include things like making paper aeroplanes or building a rocket out of recycled materials. This helps to embed creative, problem solving and ideation skills, allowing children to further develop throughout education.
Teaching STEM at an early age can help children improve their memory retention. STEM education has a typical retention rate of 80-90% whereas traditional education only has a 5% retention rate.
Building children’s memory retention as early as possible gives them a great headstart when it comes to learning and developing throughout their education.
STEM education can help children’s language development. This will help increase vocabulary and help improve children’s conversational skills, while helping them learn a new subject.
Many STEM activities involve collaborative learning, encouraging children to work as a team and develop conversational and explanatory skills.
Prepares them for higher education
All of the skills children learn in early STEM education prepares them with skills needed for higher education.
Instilling curiosity and creativity will also encourage children to study STEM subjects in further education and develop future careers.
How can parents implement STEM in early childhood?
STEM education can be easily implemented into a child’s daily routine. This can be done through:
- Going on a nature walk – This engages the senses and can promote conversations relating to science and biology.
- Teaching them how to cook or bake – This incorporates STEM through using measurements and chemical reactions.
- Playing games – Whether these are online or in real life, playing games can introduce children to things like engineering and maths.
- Reading – Reading together can help improve reading and writing skills, while helping children learn about new topics.
How to implement STEM into the school curriculum
STEM education is essential for children’s learning and development, which is why it needs to be implemented into schools’ curriculum more often. Stem education can be taught in a variety of ways, such as:
Project based learning
This involves children working on a project for a specific period of time where they can learn new skills and apply their knowledge to solve a problem. Teachers should allow children to take full control of the project, which could involve building a model bridge or designing an app.
Inquiry based learning
Inquiry based learning encourages students to ask as many questions as they like relating to the subject they’re learning. This helps them develop critical thinking, questioning and problem solving skills.
This is another student led learning practice that involves teachers prompting reflection and curiosity.
How to engage students in STEM
Currently, STEM industries have a small number of graduates, however a lack of diversity is an even bigger issue for the industry.
So how can we engage more students in STEM to help reduce the diversity gap and increase the number of STEM graduates?
Diversity and inclusion
Research shows that after GCSEs only 35% of female students decide to carry on studying STEM subjects, with only 25% of females carrying on with it after university.
To encourage more females to study STEM subjects we could:
- Improve job satisfaction – More should be done to highlight the impact STEM related careers have on the planet and society.
- Showcase more role models within the industry – This will help to encourage girls to pursue a career in STEM as they’ll see more people like them working in the industry.
Tips for teachers
Introducing STEM focussed lessons into the curriculum can be slightly daunting. That’s why we’ve written a few tips to help those teaching STEM lessons.
- Ask questions – It’s okay to ask questions. It can even encourage your students to start discussions and ask questions back.
- Include hands-on lessons – This helps students retain information more.
- Use experiments – This helps to improve retention, as well as encouraging students to collaborate with each other.
- Ask your students for feedback – This will help you understand whether the lessons were beneficial for students, as well as knowing where to improve or other things you could include in your lessons.
What is Millennium Point doing to support STEM education?
The STEM round table was created by The Millennium Point Charitable Trust to bring together STEM industries, primary and secondary education, further education and not-for-profits in STEM sectors.
The working group aims:
- To provide a platform for support and communication to facilitate the sharing of ideas and cross-collaboration for the development of STEM projects.
- To shape the future of STEM learning, starting in the West Midlands by making affirmative action that creates positive change in STEM education and industry.
- To reverse current negative STEM trends by bridging the skills gap and ensuring every child has an opportunity to develop a career in STEM.
- To increase home grown STEM talent by creating a legacy that will nurture local and national talent that will allow the UK to be a major competitor on the global stage.
Get in touch with our Trust Team today to see how you can get involved in supporting the growth of STEM education.