STEM: What’s all the Buzz about?
I am embarrassed to say that not until my son entered kindergarten and I sat in on an orientation meeting at his school did I learn what the acronym STEM stands for. I feel like I should have known this since I graduated with a degree in biology. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Once I knew what it was and I had a school aged child I started to feel like I was hearing that word all the time. My son’s charter school has a huge emphasis on STEM and is in the process of building a STEM building on the campus.
The last two years I started to learn a lot about why STEM is so important to our growing children and what the buzz is all about.
- More than the subjects alone: It is not solely about teaching our kids the individual subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. STEM education is about teaching children how things work and how all of these subjects are related. The STEM teaching approach allows kids to learn how to be innovative and also problem solvers. It teaches brainstorming, predicting, decision-making, testing and problem solving. Many schools and after school programs now offer robotics and engineering to kids as young as kindergarten. My son has been in a Jr. Engineering program for the last two years. They start off by learning how to come up with a concept as a team and execute the concept using things like Lego. This base gets progressively challenged throughout the years and ultimately by high school students are engineering and coding robots.
- Future careers: Employment in occupations related to stem will grow to more than 9 million by 2022. 1 million more jobs than seen in 2012. My kids saw the movie Big Hero 6 by Disney and came home saying they wanted to be engineers when they grow up. Even Disney is getting in on the STEM action! I would love for my boys to pursue careers in STEM, since these jobs are not only intellectually stimulating, but also financially rewarding. Stem occupations have a median salary of $76,000 more than double the $35,000 for all other workers. You can find this data from the department of labor. bls.gov/emp
- Keeping up with the rest of the world: Our kids are not solely competing against other U.S. graduates for jobs once they graduate. We live in a global world now, where outsourcing is the new norm. To be able to keep our jobs here in the U.S. we have to start educating our children in STEM at an early age.
- Evolving with the times: We are living in an age defined by technology, which cannot be denied. Historically U.S. students have been lagging in STEM. The new focus on STEM will increase our students’ ability and interests in these key areas, so they are ready for college and careers in the future. From the exposure that my 4, 5, and 7 year old have received so far, my children have shown a great interest in STEM.
- Bringing it all together: Critical thinking is the key factor to all the buzz behind STEM. The STEM approach integrates all the subject areas and promotes higher levels of critical and creative thinking. So for everyone concerned about the language and arts, they may not be in the acronym, but they are a part of STEM. Since our family sees the importance of STEM and my boys have shown such an interest in it, we have implemented it at home. My boys play with a coding robot called Dash created by wonder workshop. This robot was designed to teach young children how to code. They use an iPad to code Dash, but they have to use their creativity to come up with a concept and make it all come together. When they play with Dash they work as a team, amazingly, without fighting. They come up with a concept that they would like Dash to do and they implement it using a simple coding app. The best way to see benefits of this educational toy is to view the video we created. This is active learning through play at its finest!
CLICK Below To See The Video!!
I will be doing a formal review of Dash by wonder workshop in another blog. If you are interested in finding out more about Dash or purchasing the product, please visit: