Programming and robotics seem to be the new, hip thing in today’s classroom. STEM concepts are being taught from elementary school, sometimes alongside core topics like English and Math. But why is teaching STEM topics to young kids so popular? How useful could it possibly be? (It’s not like the average person interacts with robots all day)
I’ll take you through my morning just to show you how silly this fad is!
First things first, I got up and brushed my teeth. My toothpaste tube was nearly empty, so I pulled out my phone and ordered a new one on Amazon with one click.
With the growing demand of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related occupations, the focus on STEM education has jumped significantly in recent years. However, the majority of kids nowadays have little to no interest in STEM subjects. The way they are introduced to STEM subjects in schools is unengaging and unrelated to their lives. They can’t connect the logic between Math formulas and living out their daily activities. Children should really be exposed to STEM in their homes since early age.
You are invited to a child’s birthday party. As an adult with no children you have no idea what kids are into these days, and hope that your random purchase at Toys R’Us will be acceptable. When you enter their website or their store the first choice you make is based on the sex of the child. Is the child a boy or a girl? Although most of the toy categories under boy’s toys and girl’s toys are the same except for a few, within the categories you will see a difference. Within the building sets and blocks category the page looks different if you are in the boys or girls section. For example, girls have a Lego play house, and frozen treat stand. The boys have a technic hydroplane racer and Homing spider droid.
Engage! K-12 is an interactive and hands-on learning experience organized by eye-catching themes (such as soccer-playing robots or autonomous cars). Students and teachers can access the browser-based learning ecosystem from any device. A user-friendly interface allows teachers, even those with zero programming experience, to bring their lessons to life with virtual or physical robots.
In a recent Apple news article , well known tech consultant Tim Bajarin, President of Creative Strategies, Inc., discussed the importance of President John F Kennedy's “we choose to go to the moon speech.” Mr Bajarin believes that that speech given by the president on September 12, 1962 at Rice Stadium in Houston was crucial in the development of a whole generation of engineers and mathematicians: the very people necessary to this nation's winning the last century's great space race to the moon. It is Mr Bajarin’s opinion that “by the mid-1980s, without a similar push by either the US.government or the schools to emphasize science, technology, engineering and math (STEM for short), we lost almost two decades of youth who chose to go into other fields of learning.”
No, not "candy coating", but maybe just as fun. The makers of Pocky, Glico, have made a game app called Glicode that let's kids start coding by arranging the real-life cookies into various patterns and snapping a picture of the arrangement to translate it into in-game commands. The game itself is brightly colored and cute, and the cookies are ready to eat once they've been used - what more could a kid want?
At the June 27, 2016 ISTE famed futurist Dr Michio Kaku spoke to the assembled educators about the coming “digitization” of many industries. He thinks it is only a matter of time--and not much time at that!--before many--maybe even most-- jobs now held by humans will be handled more cheaply and efficiently by robots. If my own past is any guide, I think he’s right. But he was also quick to point out that there were some jobs that he didn’t see replaced by artificial intelligence any time soon--if at all. Teaching, Dr Kaku believes, is one of those jobs. So far nothing digital has appeared on the horizon that looks likely to replace the classroom teacher. I’ve had reason to agree with him there too...
The momentarily stern-looking gentleman in this image gave the opening keynote address at the recent ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, June 26 through 29, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. I’m certain his face is familiar, but do you know his name? I didn’t, although I feel like I’ve seen him a thousand times on TV explaining everything from time-travel to warp-drives (neither of which exists, of course; but after he got through explaining them I did finally understand why!). And with his infectious enthusiasm and shock of gray hair, he is hard to miss.
I just came across some school-rating figures that surprised me: according to the personal finance website WalletHub based in Washington DC, South Carolina public schools were rated 45th in the nation in educational quality in 2015. That’s 45th in a field of 51. That’s not a good score. The reason this low score surprised me is that I had recently read an interesting Internet post that described at least one South Carolina school district as very up-to-date, progressive and STEM oriented. I guess I thought that would be the same for the entire state!
Personally, I can't remember a president since Eisenhower that has tried as hard to inspire young people to undertake a STEM career as has President Barak Obama. And yes, I can remember the Eisenhower Administration and the day Sputnik went into orbit and changed the world forever! John Kennedy’s administration might have set the nation’s course for the moon in 1961, but I doubt we could have achieved that without the impetus provided four years earlier by Sputnik orbiting the Earth.This drove the country to increase spending on what we know today as STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Until that moment, we had thought ourselves invulnerable. Sure, the Russians had the bomb too, but they had nothing with wings to deliver it across the thousands of miles separating us as up-to-date as our own Strategic Air Command’s B-52 Stratofortress. And then suddenly, they did…