Full STEM Ahead!
The importance of STEM Education in today’s changing world
STEM, STEAM, or STREAM? They all seem to be the buzz acronyms in education at the moment, but what are they and why are they so important?
STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
STREAM = Science, Technology, Reading and W(R)iting, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
Whether you are talking STEM, STEAM or STREAM, there has been a significant shift in today’s education in relation to teaching skills required for the 21st century learner; such as visualising, pattern recognition, data analysis, logical reasoning, coding, robotics, and computational thinking. Students, today are involved in sustained investigations, project-based learning and have become creators of their own digital solutions. Amazing, isn’t it? If that’s what they are doing at school, imagine what remarkable things will they be doing once they reach the workforce.
The main reason for this recent STEM revolution is that our digital world is changing rapidly, and we need to prepare our current students for the vastly different 21st century workforce. This workforce will be radically different to what we are experiencing now or to what has been experienced by our previous generations. It has been predicted that the students of today will be working in jobs that don’t even exist yet. 50% of these jobs have been predicted to require high level digital skills and 75% of the fastest growing occupations require science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
These predications have sparked the Australian Government to renew the National STEM Education Strategy and place more funding into much needed STEM initiatives. The renewed strategy states that all students should finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills and be inspired to take on more challenging STEM subjects. This strategy has seen a significant investment in STEM activities and student engagement in schools, universities, and even early childhood settings. The Federal Government has funded a whopping $3.5 million into a Coding across the Curriculum initiative because coding in all subjects is believed to be as fundamental as reading and writing.
This will have significant benefits for our children. They will be engaged in deep, rich, multimodal learning experiences from a young age and be exposed to a holistic approach to scientific thinking and reasoning. Studies have shown that students who are involved in the active learning process that are essential to STEM subjects, increase their performance significantly in examinations and assessments. They can improve communication, collaboration, and teamwork skills by stimulating their natural curiosity to learn and investigate.
STEM is a part of everyday life and an increasing part of every early learning centre, school, university, and workplace. STEM education empowers students to develop solutions to complex problems and provides them with literacies and capabilities that will help them succeed in a world of technological change. As future visionaries, educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, and world leaders, it is imperative that students develop the skills required to compete on a global scale.
After all, in the words of Edward Teller,
“The science of today, is the technology of tomorrow”.