Parents naturally want what’s best for their kids, which is partially why STEM education is on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days in regards to education. The so-called “quadfecta” of schooling – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – has the reputation of setting children up for the highest-paying and possibly most influential jobs in America over the course of the next 30-50 years, so parents are putting a high emphasis on the subjects.
If a school isn’t, they’re most likely going to be left behind. Here are four reasons to consider it if your school isn’t already.
1. STEM Involves Hands-On Learning
With technology ever-growing and our world ever-shrinking, we have the unique ability over the next century to effect real change in our environment, whether that’s creating clean water possibilities for developing nations or colonizing other planets and interacting with other forms of life. No matter which way you slice it, STEM teaches skills that aren’t just theoretical in nature but can provide real input on real-life issues that matter.
Traditionally, a class that focuses on aquaponics (the practice of combining agriculture with water-based nutritional systems, or hydroponics) would be centered book learning and charting the theoretical growth on a chart. In STEM learning, kids are actually creating and developing an aquaponics laboratory in their classroom, monitoring the growth in a real-world environment. And because they’re learning with their hands instead of just their heads, it sticks better and will be easier to recall in other arenas of learning.
2.STEM Encourages Teamwork and Inquiry
While some STEM type projects are designed to be completed by yourself, the majority of these activities are done in groups, which means kids learn how to work together and complete projects as a team. Moreover, they encourage kids to ask questions, dig deeper, and ask the big “why” related questions, instead of just simply looking at the high-level point of view. These are skills that will help them later on life and empower them to continue growing as they explore the world around us.
3. STEM Teaches That Failure Is Okay
The current system of grading is a strict pass-fail type of situation: either your child makes the grade and moves on to the next phase, or they fail and have to repeat instruction. While this approach is useful for establishing certain benchmarks for education, it also puts an emphasis on book knowledge rather than experiential learning.
In contrast, STEM education focuses the child on growth through trial-and-error. If a solution wasn’t correct, why wasn’t it correct and what can you do to improve? If it was technically a success, how can it be made better? By focusing the child’s efforts on learning and accepting failure as a necessary part of growth, we’re creating more well-rounded and adaptable citizens that will be major contributors in the years to come.
4. STEM Applies the Education That They’re Otherwise Learning
One of the big reasons why children are bored in school is the lack of application for the lesson to real-life situations. After all, what use is Calculus if the student goes on to become an English teacher?
Instead of simply learning things to learn them and pass a test, STEM excels in putting the skills that they’ve otherwise learned in classes and applying them to practical situations. A chemical reaction, for instance, has a totally different meaning in its applications to colonizing Mars than it does as an equation on a piece of paper. These are the types of real-world applications that teachers try to get their kids excited about, and the more we practice it, the more prepared our children will be.