STEM Education:A Comprehensive guide for Parents and Educators

STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or the set of disciplines essential to aspire to job success in the near future and to help solve the significant challenges that our country is facing.
More and more often, we hear about STEM, but how many really know what it means and what it is? Let’s find out the meaning of a term so talked about, which paths it includes and the perspectives that training in this area can offer.

STEM for Kids
High angle view at diverse group of children enjoying experiments in chemistry lab at school, copy space

What does STEM mean ?

STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In practice, the perfect combination of disciplines that seem to represent today the gateway to the future of work so as to become increasingly indispensable for the training and professional development of the next generations. The importance of having solid knowledge in the technological and scientific fields does not arise today. Still, undoubtedly in recent years, it has become a necessity that tends to amplify continuously.
In fact, scientific disciplines are at the center of a great debate that involves schools, universities, managers, companies and the entire Public Administration, both for their role as protagonists in the current labor market and for their ability to be the engine of change and resolution of very topical and urgent issues such as the gender gap, environmental sustainability and the scarce supply of talents specialized in sectors with high technological content.

This is confirmed by research by the World Economic Forum, according to which more than six jobs of the future out of ten will be completely different from the traditional ones we know today and will require specific scientific skills.

The origin of the STEM acronym

The origin of the acronym STEM dates back to the early 2000s and was first inserted by the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report which denounced the low level of knowledge that US students with respect to subjects closely related to innovation and economic development of the country (with reference to mathematics, , technology and engineering).

It appeared to solve the problem of students’ weakness in science and mathematics, and at the same time it appeared as a way to link education in daily life in order to provide the learner with the concepts and skills available in different fields of study in a comprehensive and integrated way in the form of real-life problems or projects. , to form an integrated educational system consisting of science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields in the primary and secondary levels, which in turn provides a creative and innovative way to solve a problem and direct practical application of what has been learned.

Why add the A to STEM to be STEAM?

Adding Art to STEM to create STEAM means incorporating creative thinking and applied arts into real situations. Art is not just working in a studio. Art is about discovering and developing ingenious ways of solving problems, integrating principles or presenting the information. Imagine an architect. They use engineering, math, technology, science and art to create stunning buildings and structures. Many people believe that adding the A to STEM to be STEAM is unnecessary and that the application of creativity and the arts is a natural part of STEM, but others like to highlight it. For elementary-age children, in particular, Whether you prefer STEM or STEAM, the primary principles and practices are pretty much the same; it’s all about integrating the pillars: science, technology, engineering, art and math.

What is the real difference between STEAM and STEM? The real difference is that STEM is in effect an educational approach that integrates technology, engineering, science and mathematics while as regards STEAM is an educational approach that incorporates:

  • Engineering
  • Technology
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Art.

STEM as you have well understood does not focus on other sectors such as music, writing and art, which STEAM does.

STEM

What are the STEM/STEAM subjects?

Below is the complete list of school subjects:

  • Physics and mathematics;
  • Mathematics;
  • Mathematics and science;
  • Physics;
  • Computer science and technology.

Specific competitions were held at school for the recruitment of teachers belonging to the STEM teaching category.

What are the STEM disciplines for?

Another question we are often asked is: what are the STEM disciplines for? The latter, as a whole, are fundamental points regarding the formation of tomorrow’s generations.

All this has been repeatedly the subject of various studies by industry experts who, in every way, have tried to explain why STEM subjects have become so essential over time and why society has made the decision to include them in life. Daily of all students since elementary school, in practice from their first years of experience in the school environment.

The STEM disciplines are used in everyday life, even for the most trivial things. Quantities, numbers, and dimensions are part of the habits of everyday life, and to the little ones, in one way or another, it trains the mind to grasp these important aspects. Although most of the time, automatic actions are carried out without any precise criteria, the brain is able at any time to process the news, information and some notion by relying on algorithms or numbers.

Also, according to what the experts report, STEM subjects, among other things, are an excellent help to implement fundamental and decisive choices: for example, you can resort to using the knowledge provided by these disciplines to buy a new smartphone Or a tablet for those you love most, but also to evaluate the convenience of an insurance policy.

We have not finished. You absolutely cannot take good decisions without the knowledge that you can get from STEM fundamentals, like when you are facing tough choices such as buying a car in installments or taking out a mortgage at your bank. In short, contrary to those who think STEM subjects are helpful and how.

Degrees of STEM scientific disciplines

The term STEM is composed of the initials of the various disciplines and indicates precisely: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The attention to these subjects is due to the increase in jobs in the technological and scientific sectors after the year 2000.

STEM skills are also known as the 4 C’s because they involve:

  • Cooperation
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Creativity

With STEM, skills are created in the way they will be used in the world of work in everyday life. Rarely a job requires only a set of skills that are done with math. Think of a surveyor, he relies on multiple math, science, technology or engineering skills to do his job.

What are the benefits of teaching STEM disciplines? What are the effects on students?

Promotes ingenuity and creativity:

Ingenuity and creativity can be combined with STEM to generate new ideas and innovations. Recent advances in artificial intelligence or digital learning would not be possible without ingenuity and creativity. These technologies were developed by people who realized that if the human mind can understand it, it can realize it.

Builds resilience:

Students learn in a safe environment where they can fail and try again during STEM education activities. STEM education emphasizes the value of failure as a learning exercise, which will allow students to accept mistakes and flaws as part of the learning process. This allows students to build trust and resilience, allowing them to move forward when the going gets tough. After all, failure is a natural part of the process that ultimately leads to success.

Encourage adaptation:
To be successful in life, students must be able to apply their knowledge to different and various situations.
STEM education teaches them to apply all the concepts they’ve learned to different iterations of the problem.


Enhancing Collaboration:
Working in groups or within a team to solve a specific problem or to carry out a particular project or design, with such collaboration, contributes to training them to take responsibility, accept others, critically thinking and acquire many life skills.

Encourage experimentation:

Without a bit of risk-taking and experimentation, many of the technological advances that have occurred over the past two decades would not be possible. Many of these innovations were created by people who were told their ideas wouldn’t work and their response was, “Let’s try and see.”
This type of attitude can be encouraged and supported by STEM disciplines, allowing students to experiment and take risks during learning activities.

Encourage teamwork:

STEM education can be taught to students of all skill levels. Students with different skill levels can work together as a team to find solutions to problems, record data, write reports, make presentations, etc. The end result will be students who understand how to cooperate and collaborate with others and thrive in a team-oriented environment.

Encourage the application of knowledge:

In STEM education, students are taught skills that can be applied and used in the real world. This encourages students to learn because they know that the skills they learned can be applied immediately and in ways that positively benefit them and their loved ones. The ability to apply their knowledge to novel tasks will serve them well for their future job opportunities .

Encourage the use of technology:

STEM education teaches students the importance of technology and innovation. As a result, when students encounter new technologies, they will be ready to embrace them rather than be afraid of them. This will give them an advantage in the global landscape, as the world is becoming more and more technology-centric.

Teach to solve problems:

STEM education teaches students how to solve problems using their critical thinking skills. By engaging in STEM learning experiences, students learn how to examine problems and then make a plan to solve them.

What are some problems with STEM education?

One of the most significant and most serious concerns about STEM education is the lack of resources, funding for the latest technology, training on how to use such new technology and the knowledge of how to use it efficiently as a learning tool.

Another area in which many teachers struggle is with a system that focuses on assessment and grades rather than a program that promotes innovation, creativity, critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills. These results are not something that can be easily boxed and evaluated.
Developing STEM lesson plans can also be challenging when first starting out.
Unfortunately, Another common complaint I hear is that some teachers are uninterested in learning how to teach STEM and STEAM. They prefer to stay in silos by Keeping each of the STEM materials isolated in their own lessons.

Objectives of the STEM educational system

The general goal of learning, according to the STEAM philosophy, is to link learning to life or reality, but there are many sub-goals. Studies and research indicate that the most prominent of these goals are as follows:

  • Increasing the cognitive curiosity of the child or the student towards discovery, investigation and knowledge of the dimensions of their world.
  • Raise the level of students’ confidence in science concepts by applying and employing them in explaining phenomena and solving problems surrounding them.
  • Provide students with different thinking skills, the most important of which are design thinking, problem-solving skills, and decision-making.
  • Preparing students to participate and interact in society by employing science skills as productive and active citizens in their surrounding environment.
  • Spreading the culture of teamwork through projects, collaborative learning, and communication skills.
  • Improving digital technology culture by employing technology and rationalizing its use.

Standards for the implementation of the STEM educational system

Despite the focus and increasing interest in the STEM orientation and the confirmation of most studies and research on its effectiveness in student learning and providing them with the skills they need in their present and future, its implementation and application still pose a major challenge for educational institutions in all its parties. We can briefly present the criteria through which the Steam system is implemented as follows:

  • The curriculum is interdisciplinary, problem-based and focused on real-world applications.
  • STEM educators collaborate as a multidisciplinary team to plan, implement and improve integrated learning experiences for students.
  • The learning environment is based on critical thinking within the framework of learners’ respect for their peers and acceptance of their ideas and opinions.
  • STEM learning outcomes determine students’ knowledge needed for the next level of learning, post-secondary readiness, and job-market readiness.

We can say that the STEM Education system offers opportunities and advantages for your children in a beautiful future by achieving real learning based on understanding and applying knowledge in life, and it also qualifies them for future jobs that are commensurate with the requirements of the times.

Why is STEM important?

If you look around you, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is everywhere. It’s in your home, in the classroom, in the companies you visit, and on the roads, you drive. The products and services you use every day are shaped by scientific and technical innovations, from your smartphone to your refrigerator, ATM and medicine. It is projected that 75 percent of all jobs will require STEM skills over the next decade. STEM study and work are centred around learning about the world, finding innovative solutions to real-world challenges, and playing a role in some of the significant discoveries and developments.

On the importance of STEM in education, the National Science Foundation notes that: “In the twenty-first century, scientific and technical innovations are becoming increasingly important as we face the advantages and challenges of globalization and the knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new society based on the information and high technology, Students need to develop their STEM abilities to levels far beyond what was acceptable in the past.

STEM education and better job opportunities

STEM is a critical educational system due to the impact of science, technology, engineering and mathematics on the global economy and general well-being, and as STEM careers are beginning to take on a completely different look than they used to be, some of the most important jobs in the world require a background in science, technology and engineering

STEM education is more than just a requirement for graduation. Through this system, students are taught the best skills that employers are looking for. In this context, STEM Jobs refer to the eight most essential skills that STEM education can provide to students, which can increase job opportunities:

Data Analysis

This is an important skill because while calculators can be involved in everything from computers to watches, the ability to analyze data is absolutely essential. A calculator can give an end result to a formula, but comparing those numbers with numbers and other information is an integral part of the work.
Citizens and productive workers need to be able to draw reasonable inferences from data and focus when others misinterpret the data.

Meta-Cognition

It is a skill that helps students take control of their own learning. Meta-Cognition is the awareness and understanding of your own thoughts. Employers need workers who can find faults in their own work, reflect on their own biases and misconceptions, and apply what they have learned about themselves to future problems.
This is why teachers ask you to explain your thinking and show your work. Taking the time to study the process you are considering can reveal a lot about how you approach problems and where you might be making mistakes.

Information Literacy

In this world of instant and easy-to-find news sources, the quality of information does not quite match the quantity available. To be an excellent student and a great candidate for a job, you must use reliable sources of news and information. Information literacy includes the ability to recognize bias and skewed facts.

 Global Awareness

The concept of global consciousness includes, in principle, that all things are connected to each other, in the sense that the nature of somewhere in the Nevada desert, for example, can affect Mexico, or that deforestation and deforestation in Mexico can affect the change in climate in a region. Global awareness in a STEM environment translates the idea of “Think globally, act locally”.
In STEM programs, students can communicate and collaborate with people anywhere, regardless of distance. Global awareness is one of the best skills students can acquire.
When teachers focus on global awareness, they are teaching diversity and tolerance, understanding of other cultures, and the responsibility of each person as part of a worldwide community.

Problem Solving

The concept of “problem-solving” is defined as a thinking process in which the individual uses his previously acquired knowledge and skills to respond to the requirements of an unfamiliar situation.
The response is by taking action aimed at resolving the ambiguity or ambiguity involved in the situation. Problem-solving is one of the most important skills in the 21st-century senior skill-set. To become an adult who is able to relate to others, work and face different obstacles, you must have excellent problem-solving skills.
Problem-solving involves more than getting the correct answer. When teachers ask you to explain the work you’re doing and define a problem with solutions in more than one way, they help you strengthen your problem-solving skills to prepare for real-world challenges. Companies want employees who can think flexibly and find unique solutions to common problems.

Initiative

When students take the initiative, they feel proud of what they are doing and are interested in their current projects. Employers complain about having to tell so many workers exactly what to do in order to get anything done.
They lack initiative and must be worked through a micromanaged methodology to be successful in the workplace.
As a result, employers rank initiative as one of the top skills they look for in employees. Bosses notice and appreciate an employee who, when faced with a problem, does something about it instead of sitting back and waiting for someone to tell them to fix it. The initiative can be difficult to teach, but STEM educators try to foster initiative in students by encouraging voluntary actions and talking about personal and societal responsibility.

 Leadership

The top piece of advice when studying STEM or making the transition into the world of work is, “Don’t follow the herd.”
Educators and employers want to see how students or researchers can lead the team. Leadership can mean building up others, helping your peers find their strengths, and settling conflicts in a fair and reasonable way.
Leadership development takes a long time, but it can take you far into the real world. Perhaps this is why STEM professors are fond of teamwork…

Flexibility

It is a crucial skill because although all previous skills are important, flexibility remains important for students, whether in their studies or after their graduation, as students who are flexible are more able to listen to the concerns of others.
Resilience means that a person will be fine if the situation changes and something unexpected happens. The old saying goes, “the only constant is change”, and it is true because in a world that is advancing and changing so quickly, only the agile will adapt, and he will succeed.

Divide ideas into parts

A big idea cannot be implemented in one go, so STEM skills stipulate the need to continuously work on dividing big ideas into small ones or, in other words dividing the big goal into small goals and starting to implement each of them sequentially. One of the most important examples of this is Google, which began with a few products and then became invading all over the world which has become entirely dependent on its software products as well, and other more successful examples.

Belief in one’s own abilities

Self-confidence and belief in one’s own abilities must come from the person’s soul without being affected by any external symptoms or opinions. Therefore, It is challenging to find a successful businessman or project owner who does not possess a great deal of self-confidence and belief in unique skills and abilities. Learners and trainees must always be trained to have a good amount of self-confidence and emotional stability as well at the same time.

Motivate others

Entrepreneurs must be a source of positive energy for others and also be a permanent motivator for all business members in order to help them always and forever bring out the best in them and then reach the best work performance and productivity, and therefore mastering STEM skills requires a high amount of energy Positivity and to completely stay away from spreading the negative spirit in the hearts of others.

These top skills provide a comprehensive view of the natural world of work, foster a sense of responsibility, and make you a candidate for the best jobs of the future and a more committed student. Whether you want to work with robots or learn about driver-less car technology, you will have these opportunities and more if you decide to get involved in STEM fields.

How do you improve your STEM skills?

After all that we have presented about the types of STEM skills, you may start thinking about the steps you can take to improve your skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), so we will mention below the most important ways and means that are used to develop these skills well

  1. Take courses online or in one of the specialized centres

There are many courses designed to improve STEM skills, so you should determine the skills you want to improve, then search for training courses either in your local area or online, as many local colleges and universities offer courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, You can also find vocational schools with programs related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in addition to the availability of many courses and training courses on many online courses sites, in learning all STEM skills.

  1. Read books and articles

Books and articles are valuable resources for developing STEM skills, and you can learn a lot by buying a book or borrowing a book from any bookstore, especially books related to the STEM skills you want to develop. There are also plenty of sites online that can guide you on how to learn Specific STEM skills.

  1. Join a STEM group

There are a lot of groups that focus on learning STEM skills, such as clubs or programs at a local school or in your community, or through social media. Some groups focus on helping younger students develop STEM skills, while others might the other on specific projects, such as robotics competitions, and by joining one of these groups, you can learn from others in your area and develop hands-on experience working on STEM projects.

  1. STEM skills in the workplace

Many workplaces involve the regular use of STEM skills. Some of the most important tasks and ways you can apply your STEM skills in the workplace include:

  • Collect data before starting work on a new project.
  • Analyze data to determine which tasks must be completed next.
  • Use brainstorming sessions to create new products or advertising campaigns.
  • Finding new software applications to improve productivity.
  • Implement customer feedback to improve service offerings.
  • Use math skills to track company profits and losses.

Why do I choose STEM for my children?

If your children have scientific inclinations and skills, or they aspire to enroll in the study of scientific and technological sciences and specialize in them at the university levels, or they have a passion for working in the future in these fields while integrating them with the arts targeted by the STEAM system.

It is certain that this system is the most suitable for them and their skills, tendencies and aspirations. In addition to motivating them with scientific knowledge in these fields through practical and applied methods, it also stimulates their creative, mental and cognitive skills and introduces them to contemporary arts.

This increases the means for them to enroll in specialized studies in the future, whether at the undergraduate or postgraduate levels. It also provides them with more excellent opportunities and works to prepare them for the labor market and to join jobs related to these fields in the future.

Popular majors for STEM

Popular majors are in the following fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. And there is no field of preference over the other, the choice is based on your academic preferences and desires. But make sure that these areas are intertwined with each other and are closely connected, all under one job title that simulates the applied side based on the STEM system.

1- Aeronautical Engineering
2- Astronomy
3- Biochemistry
4- Biology
5- Chemical Engineering
6- Chemistry
7- Civil Engineering
8- Computer science
9- Electrical Engineering
10- Mathematics
11- Mechanical Engineering
12-Physics
13-Psychology
14- Statistics

These majors are arranged according to the priority of study by the STEM system.

And there are many other disciplines that are comprehensive to the STEM system, such as animal science, environmental sciences, marine sciences, and genetics. Agricultural engineering, architecture, architecture technology as well, and nuclear engineering.

It is worth noting that any of these majors will be a good choice for you, according to what was issued by the United States of America’s need for a workforce subject to the rule of the STEM system that works to raise the country’s economy.

And the need for workers who have this magic card, that is, the skills of the STEM system, continues to increase to this day in 2021, as there will be about 3.5 million open jobs by 2025.

Features of a STEM school environment:

STEM education system

1- Enjoy and engage in integrated workshops.
2- The environment enables the development of learners’ knowledge and skills.
3- The environment helps learners to understand and comprehend science in an easy and straightforward way and with an enjoyable learning style.
4- Providing classroom and extra-curricular learning classes.
5- Designing curricula, activities and teaching strategies in an innovative scientific manner.
6- Adopting an interactive method that is characterized by its integration and openness to the environment.
7- Helping the learner to form specific skills whose impact extends into his daily life.
8- Encouraging learners to innovate and compete in projects.
9- Improving the outcomes of the four majors: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Teacher attributes:

The first axis: in-depth knowledge content

1-A deeper understanding of what enables the teacher to interpret concepts and thus guide students to make their own discoveries.

2- Designing and constructing questions that stimulate students’ thinking and stimulate their imagination.

The teacher’s performance then develops to encourage students to put in assignments and questions instead of directing them to them.

The second axis: the educational skills necessary for the professional development of the science of STEM fields

1- Accurate understanding of how learners learn.

2- The teacher should recognize the natural misconceptions and know the proper ways for students to abandon them.

3- Directing students to scientific research, designing experiments, and processing data.

How to Motivate the students to start STEM

Learner traits:

  • Willingness to learn and a passion for achievement.
  • Attention and participation.
  • Competencies of the twenty-first century.
  • Bringing about integration between the fields of STEM.
  • The ability to relate the course of learning to the daily life of the student and his real world.

The main axes of change from the traditional curriculum to the integrated approach of STEM experiences:

1- Changing the vision of teaching science and mathematics to match what is taught in the classroom with what is happening in reality.

2- Changing the method of teaching science and mathematics in the school so that students become immersed in scientific knowledge, skills, and mental habits so that they practice science, research, investigate, solve creative problems, and have scientific thinking.

3- Changing the vision and goals of education so that it seeks to achieve an understanding of science, mathematics and their technological applications by all members of the public.

How to design lessons according to the STEAM system

In order to provide lessons that stimulate student motivation, problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking, entrepreneurial skills and teamwork, we have to offer some indispensable steps, including the steps for working on projects in Steam:

  • Start preparing simple lessons.
  • Prepare a STEAM project on the topic (unit of the week) that you will present to the students during the week.
  • The lesson should be related to the real world, not the virtual.
  • Clearly and concisely define the challenge the students will tackle and help them determine the challenge.
  • Use the engineering design process (EDP) to plan the project, as this process is the approved system for solving various STEAM challenges, starting with defining the problem and defining it for innovation and development for the final solution to the problem.
  • The lesson should be designed to support participatory group work and encourage working groups to develop their ideas.
  • Instruct working groups to choose an idea to test and pilot it.
  • Facilitate the testing and development of the experimental model.
  • Involve and encourage different work teams to share their results among themselves.
  • Redesign if there is time.
  • Stages of engineering design processes EDP

As you prepare for these lessons, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the designed lesson put the teacher in the role of the facilitator more than the role of the prompter?
  • Do I have a scenario or a preconception of how to present the problem to students, especially in the elementary and preparatory stages?
  • Does the subject lesson move away from the theory of fear of failure?
  • Is my lesson designed in a way that addresses both girls and boys without discrimination?

 

There are also some materials and materials that support thinking according to the STEAM system. You must support your child’s environment with them on a daily basis:

Balls, books, playing games, two- and three-dimensional shapes, cubes, building blocks, bobbins, wheels, beams, slopes, cardboard, colors, scissors, rulers and different units of measurement, cylinders, clay, sieves, sand, water, snow, glasses Magnifying glass – stick, stones and rocks – plants.

Your vocabulary and language with the students or with your children should support the continuous learning process by dedicating daily to:

  • Questions
  • Observation
  • discussion
  • anticipation
  • Exploration
  • and experimentation.

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