STEM learning is the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and maths and is part of our everyday lives. So why has STEM learning not been as significantly regarded as other subjects such as English?
Why is STEM learning important?
It is important for many reasons. “STEM innovations have been rapidly transforming our everyday lives; from the way we grow our food, to the way we cure diseases, connect with friends and family, and understand the world around us”. “STEM disciplines provides a pathway for children to explore a wide range of exciting areas in science, math, and engineering. Preschool children are naturally interested in science and math. Almost everything young children do involves exploring their world”.
“It’s about developing skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and curiosity. These skills are transferable to a wide range of situations that children may face later in life.” Not only this, but “children who engage in science and math regularly develop circuits to make learning in these areas faster and easier”, who believes that the neglect of these skills contributes to children being left behind. “it is key that everyone in society, not just a select few, are confident in engaging with STEM subjects in order to thrive in the modern world.”
What can be done to increase and improve the interest and education in STEM subjects in the early years?
“Children think like scientists. They are naturally curious because everything is new to them” , “Educators and parents will know how many ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions 3-year-olds can express about anything– ‘Why is the sky blue?’, ‘Why do we have two eyes?’, ‘How do fish breathe?’ and so on. However, how often do we treat these questions from children as scientific enquiries based on first-hand observations?”
“Practitioners and parents need to be educated. We know that children learn best when they can they interact with materials and observe the result. When this is accompanied by adult dialogue, they learn even more. Learning in science should be through scientific inquiry.”
“Supportive adults are key to STEM learning, particularly for girls and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Children need adults who believe that all young people are capable of reaching their full potential. “while engaging with children directly, we also seek to engage and inspire the adults who accompany young children in seeing the value of hands-on STEM learning.”
“Play in early childhood is essential to development”. Having this, “contributes to the cognitive, social and emotional well-being of children.” To become confident STEM thinkers, children need to play. “Whether play is free or guided by an adult who offers activities inspired by the child’s interests, play is ideal for learning, practicing and developing new skills.”
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