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STEM Teaching: A Catalyst for Future Innovators

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills are essential for students. Teaching STEM at an early age can spark interest in these subjects and help students pursue careers in STEM fields.

To support student learning, teachers need to teach STEM in a variety of ways. These strategies can include:

Hands-on experiments

Students in STEM subjects learn to ask questions, find answers and solve problems that matter to them. These are skills they will use throughout their lives. The subjects are also fun, making them attractive to students.

Unlike traditional classroom learning, STEM programs integrate science and maths seamlessly. Students often work together to create robots or build bridges, for example. These projects mimic real-life scenarios and give students the experience of working with real materials. This kind of learning allows students to become more interested in the subjects and more likely to continue with them after school.

Formative assessments are ideal for STEM lessons. They allow teachers to identify student strengths and weaknesses and respond quickly. They also do not rely on memorising facts, which can be difficult for many students.

STEM education is essential for all students, but it is especially important for girls and underrepresented minorities. Organizations such as IGNITE and NACME focus on promoting interest in STEM fields among these groups. They do this through mentoring programs, scholarships and other resources.

Real-world connections

STEM education is based on the idea that students learn best when they make connections between their academic coursework and real-world issues. This approach empowers students to take the lead in their learning, which helps them develop a deeper understanding of complex topics and fosters creativity.

Embracing the STEM philosophy also encourages interdisciplinary approaches that help students see how science, technology, engineering and math subjects are related. By incorporating these disciplines into a well-rounded curriculum, educators can show how they are all connected and how they can work together to solve complex problems.

Educators and industry professionals can serve as role models for STEM students and inspire them to pursue their passions in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They can help students find their niche by identifying career paths and providing guidance and support. This is especially important for underrepresented STEM populations. For example, programs like IGNITE and Corning Future Innovator Competition provide girls and women with valuable one-to-one interactions with STEM professionals who can mentor them, share their experiences, and give advice on career paths.

Technology integration

STEM is probably the most talked-about education buzzword of recent years. It stands for science, technology, engineering and math, and curriculum deliberately melds those subjects to teach 21st-century skills.

The goal is to prepare students for college, graduate study and careers in STEM fields. In addition, it fosters inquiring minds, logical reasoning and collaboration.

It is also designed to help the United States maintain a competitive edge in the global economy. STEM education helps create professionals that can work across scientific disciplines and address societal issues.

It is imperative that educators embrace the challenges and opportunities that STEM brings to classrooms. By supporting STEM education, schools and communities are helping to create a future generation of innovative thinkers. This includes fostering a sense of belonging for marginalized groups, such as women and people of color. For example, the National Inventors Hall of Fame has launched a campaign to encourage girls to pursue technical careers and reaches out through their Girl Inventors program.

Math manipulatives

In the classroom, math manipulatives serve as visual models that assist students in understanding difficult concepts. For example, students can use a number line to understand the difference between addition and subtraction or cuisenaire rods to demonstrate grouping in addition and subtraction. It is important to have a variety of tools so that students can experience a concept in many different ways.

Manipulatives also help support students as they transition into the symbolic level. For example, using a number line instead of counting with fingers may improve students’ ability to understand how to represent -15 + 17 on a positive/negative number line.

While the physical experience of a manipulative is likely instrumental in building math sense in kindergarten, virtual manipulatives are an effective tool in demonstrating student understanding and guiding next steps. Interviews with teachers indicate that virtual geoboards, pattern blocks, base-10 blocks and tangrams are the applets most often used to investigate skills and deepen conceptual understanding.