Author: Emily Newton
Summary: STEM education has had many developments since it first came into schools. Here are five new trends you could see in a school or home near you.
STEM education has always been vital, but perhaps now is the time when it’s more important than ever. Society is advancing toward the age of robotics, artificial intelligence and interconnected machines making daily life easier. For all those advancements, the industry will need a host of eager minds ready to create and utilise them.
Teaching kids about science, technology, engineering and mathematics is a crucial part of their education and potential careers. It helps them learn useful life skills and encourages them to be part of the future. Here are five trends in STEM you need to know so you can see how today’s children are becoming tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and manufacturers.
1. More Interest in Robotics Competitions
FIRST Robotics came about in the late ‘80s and has taught students about building robots and solving problems ever since. Teams have done incredible things, such as saving animals, making wheelchairs for community members and even easing the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. FIRST participants helped create ventilators, personal protective equipment and robots to deliver groceries to ageing adults.
Right now, the competitions are massive — FIRST expects to have over 55,000 high school kids participating in the event. This organisation even involves younger children, as students from 4-6 can get in on the fun with LEGOs. The popularity of such programmes is teaching more kids about robotics, teamwork and professionalism, fostering a new generation of creators.
2. STEAM Instead of STEM
For too long, people have viewed science and art as too different and unable to mix. However, creative subjects like music and visual art can help students become more rounded and better problem-solvers. Major STEM fields highly value such traits, so schools have begun advocating for a mixed programme starting around 2020.
Incorporating art into STEM education can give children the flexibility their minds need to excel in numbers-oriented subjects. They may not seem helpful for creating medicines or building computers, but classes in English and drama teach kids how to think outside the box. It introduces a not-so-objective style of thinking into the classroom, showing them ways to creatively solve problems and create an adaptive curriculum. More schools are implementing STEAM instead of strictly STEM for such reasons.
3. Early STEM Education
When you think of STEM learning, you probably don’t think of small children learning to code or build circuits — but that’s precisely what some professionals are advocating for. Birth to 5 years old is one of the most critical times in brain development. One expert even states that 85%-90% of the brain forms during these years.
This is why some people want to begin STEM education before age 6 to maximise the amount of information kids can accrue. Introducing more STEM-focused topics early on could develop greater interest in these subjects because there is such an incredible opportunity for learning before 5 years old. Preschoolers likely won’t be doing advanced experiments, but they could investigate why certain building-block structures are sturdier than others.
4. STEM Toys
Along with introducing STEM at a young age, some toys can help kids learn these concepts without realising what they’re doing. These can help children express their curiosity without feeling like their parents are forcing them to do something educational. Adults can encourage familiarity with STEM topics while kids are gaining knowledge and independence.
Toys are perhaps one of the most significant trends in STEM education. The market for these fun learning products could reach over $9 billion by 2025 — 1.5 times growth from 2019. Analysts also expect the market to grow by 7% each year, meaning more parents and teachers will buy STEM toys to start teaching their kids early. Such growth could mean more future coders, biologists or aerospace engineers.
5. Increased Digital Learning
The COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for many students to attend school remotely. Many are transitioning from this, but that may not be the best choice for STEM education. About 59% of Generation Z kids say they prefer learning on YouTube, and 47% enjoy interactive apps and games.
One significant advantage of online learning is that the information is up to date, which is critical for science-based subjects. Additionally, schools are less likely to invest in new books frequently because of their high prices. For these reasons, STEM teachers may find greater success by using more digital forms of education.
Encouraging STEM Education in the Younger Generations
Learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics is essential for today’s students. If the world hopes to keep its forward progress, it will need more scientific minds to develop and build its robots, devices and machine-learning programmes. These five trends in STEM education show how schools and parents foster a love for these subjects in their children’s lives.
Bio : Emily Newton is a science and technology journalist with over four years experience writing in the science, tech and industry sectors. She is Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine, an online magazine discussing the latest trends disrupting the industry. Follow her on LinkedIn to read more of her stories.
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