STEM is an applied and interdisciplinary approach to education that should incorporate four specific disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While science and mathematics have well established curriculums and standards, technology and engineering standards are still in their infancy. The US government and businesses heavily fund STEM through grants; however grants are temporary. To provide STEM education a school must provide classes where technology and engineering are embedded into the required curriculum.
To teach applied fields such as technology and engineering, active, not passive, learning is best practice. From preschool through graduation, students should be required to learn both technology and engineering. As early as preschool, students can learn about building/creating/design (engineering) and programming (robots).
After learning their letters, young students can start to program using tools such as MIT’s SCRATCH where teachers can easily incorporate programming into a variety of classes such as art, mathematics, reading, writing and music. Using SCRATCH, young students can draw and animate their own sprites and backgrounds (art), learn about coordinate systems (mathematics), animate a story (reading and writing) and play music and/or musical notes. Early STEM education can also incorporate the engineering design process allowing students to not just make a project, but to encourage creativity as they improve their project based on feedback and testing. Many engineering projects can be found on science websites such as Science Project Ideas including building bridges to designing and flying hot air balloons.
If a teacher is looking for a complete STEM curriculum, Lego robots have kits and materials that can be used to teach T & E alongside any and every subject from art to mathematics to reading/writing. LEGO Education Library houses a wealth of STEM resources from classroom to competition to play.
This blog was written by Dr. Christine Bakke, Lecturer, Math, Science, and Technology Department at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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