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By Luke Smith
In-person science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes have been the standard approach for decades. It’s easy to understand why this is the case, as these subjects aren't just about the theoretical aspects. There are also practical elements that help to provide a rich and effective technical education. As well as reinforcing theory, these practical elements often boost students’ enthusiasm for the fields.
However, as with so many other aspects of our lives, the COVID-19 pandemic served to force schools to make changes. To maintain safe distances, educators, students, and parents have had to adapt to a new manner of learning. This found educators adopting online tools in ways they hadn’t previously considered. As a result, educators proved that STEM education can be effective to some extent in remote circumstances.
A new normal is on the horizon and remote or hybrid teaching may be features of the educational landscape for the foreseeable future. As such, it’s worth examining whether online STEM classes can be more than just an emergency measure, and be adopted as a permanent measure. How can this be made practical, what can students and teachers gain from it, and what are the challenges?
If you’re concerned that STEM is taking up too much classroom time, consider this: STEM permeates the curriculum in ways subjects taught in isolation can’t. STEM also teaches the skills students need for success beyond their formal education.
Teachers know that they have to take advantage of every minute of instructional time they can get with students. STEM programs, with their integrated lessons, seem to usurp a considerable amount of instructional time. That can lead to arguments about pulling kids away from traditional subjects like science and math.
However, STEM offers students experiences they can’t get in traditional classrooms. STEM integrates learning through interdisciplinary studies. It affords the application of 21st-century learning skills. And finally, STEM teaches resilience.
The numbers for autism are staggering:
1.8 million cases of autism in the U.S.
1 case diagnosed every 20 minutes
24,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. every year.
Lifetime care for an autistic person: $3.2 million.
Autism care costs annually in U.S.: $35 billion.
Bonnie Gamane speaks wistfully as she recalls the day last year when a robot named Millennia visited the school she administers. What she saw were children with autism interacting with the robot in a way they never had before interacted with humans.
So much of our everyday lives and routine has been turned upside down thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, as parents and kids alike have found themselves on a remote learning adventure with nationwide school closures. While the move to eLearning has made our children and others safer from the virus, it has also resulted in plenty of frustration and possibly even left your kids feeling discouraged about learning.
Considering how quickly teachers and schools had to move their lessons to an online format, it’s understandable that things are running a little differently, and not without its hiccups. STEM subjects can be particularly tricky as most parents don’t have the kind of materials, knowledge, and tools necessary to make it as exciting as the teacher could. Kids are also having to learn very quickly how to work successfully as a remote student.
With all of that in mind, keeping our kids excited about learning while at home will take some extra, but simple tips and tricks.
Current research results are in favor of early childhood experiences for students, especially those who are disadvantaged. This education is the great equalizer because it provides a rich, common foundation for children who may have diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are essential to success at university and in later life. However, the traditional classroom model has done a poor job of imparting these skills to students. The way children have learned in the classroom for generations has focused on lectures and worksheets. Past generations would depend on group sports, clubs and teenage jobs to impart these vital skills onto students.
However, new ideas suggest that robotics may hold the key to teaching problem-solving skills to students. Using robots to teach real-world skills may be a strange concept, but is it worth exploring? We think so and here’s why.
Imagine if your school-age child had the opportunity to build a robot, dissect an animal in a virtual science lab, and bend the laws of physics without leaving home. Virtual reality (VR) continues to open up a world of opportunities for several industries including manufacturing, healthcare, construction, military training, and, of course, gaming.
Manufacturing Stories highlighted a list of fun ideas to keep kids learning through the summer, focusing on STEM and integrating curiosity, critical thinking, and fun. Check out these activities and more.
As calendar days tick by, summer are right around the corner. And with more sunshine and better conditions in sight, that means outdoor activities and camps are on the horizon.