Whether you call it STEM, STEAM, STREAM or STEMx, it seems there’s one thing
most of us can agree on: It’s time to re-envision how we teach STEM.
It’s not just that STEM-related industries are bemoaning the lack of
qualified graduates. It’s not just that students are disengaged from their science and math
classes. It’s not just that there’s a dearth of
girls interested in developing their STEM skills.
The real problem runs deeper than all of those things.
"In a world with
greater population, global interconnection, technological advancement, and
large-scale problems than ever before in human history, complex problems require
sophisticated problem-solving skills and innovative, complicated solutions,"
declared a 2013 report on "Rethinking STEM
Education: An Interdisciplinary STEAM Curriculum."
"Traditional science training provides a solid foundation of facts and basic
science technique, but rarely examines how to foster scientists' creative,
cross-disciplinary problem identification and solving skills."
In short, simply graduating more students through the STEM pipeline isn’t
enough, says Jim Vanides, global education program manager for HP.
“We need to give students new, more relevant, engaging and exciting
experiences that map to the real world of science, technology and math. Where
does nanoscience fit, or biotech? There are more disciplines that are going to
emerge in the future that aren’t part of STEM as we knew it in the 20th
So it’s time we got
creative and solved the STEM problem. While that’s easier said than done, it
starts with individual educators rethinking their approach to STEM — and incorporating STEM
skills into other subjects.
Need some inspiration to help you develop a new perspective on STEM in the
classroom? Here are five places to look:
1. Follow STEM experts on Twitter.
With a few strategic follows, you can inject a little #STEM into your
professional learning network and get a wealth of ideas and resources delivered
right to your Twitter stream. Edudemic has compiled a list of 25 interesting STEM
experts to follow.
2. Discover science with Jeff Charbonneau.
From helping student research teams collect data on
local frogs to running statewide robotics
competitions, science teacher Jeff Charbonneau masterfully
engages students in STEM subjects by applying their learning to real-world
problems. Get a dose of inspiration and ideas from the 2013 National Teacher of
the Year by watching his keynote from ISTE
3. Catch up on STEM learning.
STEM education has changed dramatically just in the past few years, with new
technologies and interdisciplinary approaches cropping up. Explore the latest
strategies, pedagogies and teaching tools from some of the leading experts in
STEM education with ISTE’s STEM
4. Teach students to code.
Coding provides a natural entry point into STEM, as it shifts students from
becoming digital consumers to digital creators. Former teacher and edublogger
Richard Byrne shares 10
coding resources for helping students learn to program.
5. Watch sessions from STEMxCon.
Last fall, educators around the world tuned in to the Global 2013 STEMx
Education Conference, a virtual conference all about rethinking STEM for the
digital age. If you missed the live event, you can still browse the free session videos online.
Check these out, and see if something sparks for you. What new STEM strategy
will you try out this year?