By: Lauren Perrodin
Have your students ever asked you how crayons work or where rocks come from? Children have a natural tendency to wonder about the world around them. These are the foundations of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
STEM offers students a chance to think critically and use deductive reasoning. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, Cindy Marten, mentions that “Today, we are saying unequivocally to all students and educators that they belong in STEM and that they deserve to have rigorous and relevant educational experiences that inspire and empower them to reach their full potential.”
What Does STEM Bring to a Classroom?
Kids naturally explore STEM on a regular basis. Simple things like comparing two natural materials against one another are STEM education.
STEM offers little learners the chance to explore the world around them and ask their countless questions! Why is the sky blue? Why does chocolate syrup disappear and make milk brown? We all know that children are always observing everyday occurrences and trying to find an answer!
The goal of an educator is to facilitate this curiosity in the classroom so that STEM can better impact their students’ lives.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
With the right lesson plan, educators allow students to take the lead in exploring through play. Building blocks help to understand gravity and balance among large and small objects, for example.
Experiential learning, education that is based on hands-on learning experiences rather than reading from texts, has been shown to improve memory retention rates according to a study published by Learning and Individual Differences. Instead of popcorn reading text, consider how a lesson can involve more experiences. For example, there’s the classic paper cup and a string telephone. It’s a simple but fun sound project that students can build then learn the science of how sound waves travel through a string to be heard on the other end of the cup!
Collaboration and Conflict Resolution
“When students work together to reason about STEM ideas, they engage in negotiation and renegotiation around meaning,” notes The Office of Educational Technology. And collaboration is only one part of their nine dimensions of STEM education.
Collaboration is essential to improving a child’s future both academically and socially. Learning how to work together on a project can push a child’s critical thinking skills while expanding their own ideas during collaborative work.
Theoretical Observation and Coming to Conclusions
As students get hands-on experience, they dive into how materials work together and what happens when particular objects interact with one another.
Although a child may not grow up as a science major, they will have the skills to formulate questions regarding their observations, develop theories and tests in their everyday life.
STEM is a Vital Part of Early Development
Adding STEM hands-on learning experiences can help students in several ways, such as:
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
- Conflict resolution
- Theoretical observation
- Coming to conclusions
No matter which path your students take, they can carry these lessons with them everywhere. If you’re curious about becoming a STEM educator, our Specific Supplementary Authorization in Computer Science Education helps you increase your reach in education with a computer science focus. Or develop custom training to suit the unique needs of your district.