STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education is one of the most sought after education curriculum today. It is almost impossible to list every discipline under these fields; however, a quick study shows that STEM fields affect virtually every component of our everyday lives. These disciplines are the symbols of human development, and the economic powerhouses of countries. It’s impossible to find a part of society that does not, in some way, interact with these subjects.
Therefore, the educational practices required by the new generation have different aims than those practiced today. Today, we need to ensure a holistic development of the younger generations, rather than a blind devouring of facts. We need them to investigate the facts that they have learned, research them, think about them, and develop on their findings. Hence, we can easily see that STEM education is crucial to Indian education system. STEM curriculum helps in both accelerating learning and increasing the depth and rigor of learning. According to Joshua M. Sneideman, an author and distinguished educator, “STEM is a way of thinking about how educators at all levels—including parents—should be helping students integrate knowledge across disciplines, encouraging them to think in a more connected and holistic way.” STEM learning focuses on experiential learning. Experiential learning enables us to bring out the best talents of students with hands on learning equipment. Practical equipment help make the students understand the traditionally boring subjects much better and help to cultivate a passion towards them.
Apart from these benefits, STEM learning also offers many other advantages. Bodies like STEMChamp have helped brighten awareness about STEM learning. There are 5 main ways in which platforms like STEMChamp help make a change in the Indian student body. If STEM learning hasn’t already impressed you, these five ways will prove that it is indeed the best education system there is.
1. STEM Education begins early and creates passionate workforce.
Introducing students to STEM early in their education, in both informal and formal learning settings, capitalizes on children’s innate curiosity about the living world. Early learners are perfectly adapted to learn STEM concepts, and it is not difficult to teach STEM to young children. By simply allowing your children to investigate, by encouraging them to ask questions about the real world, you are engaging children in STEM. Research has proven that the best practice in early childhood education is to allow for more play and investigation, and this kind of learning early in life builds skills and interests that serve children throughout their school years, and later in life. Making them interact with nature brings out their curiosity and exploration. Questioning them about it further develops their questioning and thinking skills. They can be further encouraged by reading books and watching documentaries about investigating nature. This is also a way to introduce cross-contextual learning to them.
Lilian G. Katz, in STEM in the Early Years, lays out a case that the best practice for early education is to allow students to be active, engaged, and take initiative in their own learning. Long-term research also indicates that being allowed opportunities to take initiative in your own learning is not only good for STEM learning, but for overall long-term academic success.
Children are extremely curious and impressionable, and hence instilling an interest at an early age could spark a lasting desire to pursue a career in any of these fields. Making science and math courses fun and interesting will not only help students to learn, but encourage them to pursue careers in STEM fields. The low unemployment and high wages will only be added advantages. When they naturally develop an interest that is encouraged by parents and teachers, it results in a passionate workforce that is indeed beneficial to the community.
2. Hands-on learning brings the best out of students.
Hands on learning, or experiential learning is a significant way to improve learning. Creating and conducting their own experiments allows students to explore topics that interest them. Interested students are, in turn, more motivated and successful. Experiential learning brings out the best in students through many ways. First of all, it brings out the different talents and capabilities in students. It ensures equal opportunity for understanding and learning, and breaks down various barriers of understanding, like language barriers. During practical works, children’s curiosity is naturally aroused and they think about what they are doing. This leads them to think about the various things they learn and question and apply them to the models they make. Such an experience helps them to integrate their studies into their lives and comprehend the concepts properly. They increase the student’s competence and confidence greatly. Such a type of learning also widens a student’s understanding and appreciation of science and its role in society and innovation. Experiences stay in memory longer, and hence the children will also be able to remember and apply their studies longer. The lasting memory of practical appearance is proven by many researches.
Unfortunately, it is also one of the least used methods in the current Indian education system. The Indian education system is characterized by rote learning of textbooks. The problem of such a mode of education is the incomplete comprehension of concepts and the inability to reproduce the theories and concepts practically. In hands on learning, the children are also made to interact with each other. This encourages them to share and help each other, which is also a value that students may fail to grasp in typical schools.
3. STEM education creates useful skills.
Mastering STEM skills will create those attributes and soft-skills that your kids need to develop for any future career that they may want to pursue. During STEM programming, students are creating their own research questions and following a process that helps them learn to investigate multiple perspectives and connect ideas to solve a problem. Whether it’s the Engineering Design Process, the Design-Thinking Process, or the Scientific Method, your kids are going to be collaborating with others; asking important questions; taking leadership in their roles; and testing many ideas to reach a solution. STEM education creates meaningful and deep learning experiences and also helps in creating future problem solvers. STEM challenges also create confidence in students by working through the unknown.
In a country like India, whose population is characterized by smart youths, STEM helps cultivate it for the best result. It provides an alternative and more fun way of learning. The experiential learning that STEM learning promotes helps Indian youths be better prepared to face the challenges faced on International platforms.
4. STEM Education helps reduce Gender and Social Gaps.
STEM education helps to bridge the ethnic and gender gaps sometimes found in math and science fields. Some groups in the Indian Social system have been privileged with education. However, STEM education helps bridge these gaps by providing opportunities to everyone equally. Initiatives have been established to increase the roles of women and minorities in STEM-related fields.
STEM education breaks the traditional gender roles. The gender gap in labor force can be clearly seen in any workplace. As shown by various surveys, the number of women with actual IT related roles is closer to 25% and only 17% of recent female grads are in IT related fields. Gender biases and lack of opportunities have resulted in this gap. However, there is hope for women in STEM careers and this gap will slowly start to improve as more STEM education opportunities are available to girls around the world.
5. Increasing career options
The demand for STEM-skilled employees is ever growing in the 21st century. Stem careers are some of the fastest growing and best paid of the 21st century, and they often have the greatest potential for job growth. Building a solid STEM foundation through a well-rounded curriculum is the best way to ensure that students are exposed to math, science, and technology throughout their educational career. “In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” (National Science Foundation, USA)
Another great fact about STEM careers is that it encourages innovations and fresh ideas. In the fast paced changes taking place in the fields of science and technology, new ways of thinking and questioning is always appreciated. Hence it emphasizes more on creativity and skill rather than traditional experience. These innovative boosts the economy. The experiential learning practiced in STEM education enhances these skills in children.