Science: The study of the natural world. Visual learning technology is going to get increasingly important. So much of what scientists do now is modeling, which requires smart interfaces and lots of hands-on work. Students can then begin to see that science and math are not isolated subjects, but work together to solve problems. This adds relevance to their math and science learning. In STEM, students also use technology in appropriate ways and design their own products (also technologies).
Technology: It’s hard to build curricula for technology courses because it changes so rapidly. That’s not a good enough excuse in today’s world, though. One surprise—the STEM definition for technology includes any product made by humans to meet a want or need. (So much for all technology being digital.) A chair is technology; so is a pencil. Any product kids create to solve a problem can be regarded as technology.
Engineering: STEM Engineering lessons are guided by the Engineering Design Process (EDP). In this process, students define problems, conduct background research, develop multiple ideas for solutions, develop and create a prototype, and then test, evaluate, and redesign them. This sounds a little like the scientific method—but during the EDP, teams of students try their own research-based ideas, take different approaches, make mistakes, accept and learn from them, and try again. Their focus is on developing solutions.
Mathematics: While neither the content nor the teaching methods have changed very much over the past 100 years, the tools have certainly changed. There are a lot of great resources for teachers to use to find ideas, lesson plans, and other information to incorporate STEM into their classrooms. They do not have to do it alone and it does not have to take a lot of time or effort to incorporate STEM topics and ideas into any classroom. STEM topics can be incorporated into any class, about any subject. Work together with other teachers to come up with some interdisciplinary projects and lessons. Have fun with it!
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