The global economy is constantly evolving, fueled by the rapid growth of technology. Critical 21st century skills are in high demand, and today’s students must be prepared for jobs which do not yet exist. It is estimated that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not even been invented yet (Institute for the Future, 2017). Simply put, the students of today must be prepared for an unknown, technology-driven future.
In response to this unprecedented season of growth and change, it is imperative that parents and teachers equip young people with tools of the future – critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation – lest they be replaced by robots.
While technically an acronym representing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, STEM is much more than these discrete topics. Rather, STEM should be imparted as a mindset through which students view and process their world to solve the problems of the future (more on STEM as a mindset here). In short, 21st century skills necessitate the acquisition of STEM skills.
So how can parents and teachers best prepare students for success in the 21st century? First, they must develop a deep understanding of STEM teaching and learning concepts.
“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
A Roadmap for STEM Teaching and Learning
As a multifaceted discipline rooted in a constructivist (‘learn-by-doing’) approach, STEM education is the ideal lens through which content and activities from any domain can be delivered. For example, rather than simply playing in a sandbox, a preschool student can embark upon an engineering activity wherein he or she must use the sand and typical tools to replicate a famous structure based on a digital photograph. In this approach, STEM becomes the framework through which content of any subject is delivered and made real.
Top 3 STEM Books for UNDERSTANDING STEM EDUCATION
To use STEM as a framework for any lesson or activity, a deep understanding of STEM teaching and learning is essential. Fortunately many resources exist to help parents and teachers understand and implement STEM education.
- A Roadmap To Success: Foundations of STEM Learning: A Roadmap To Success is an indispensable tool for thoughtful adults trying to create thoughtful children. The ability to perform a complicated task or reach worthwhile intellectual goals is not found by happenstance. This book will help you create a strong foundation for STEM learning.
- Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide: This book presents a treasure trove of practical research-based strategies for designing and teaching STEM. Focused on teenage students, the book draws on the authors’ extensive backgrounds and decades of experience in STEM education and faculty development. Its engaging and well-illustrated descriptions will equip you to implement the strategies and to deal effectively with problems (including student resistance) that might occur in the implementation.
- Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators: This book is an excellent resource for practitioners, parents, and program developers that illuminates creative, cutting edge ways to inspire and motivate young people about science and technology learning. The book is aligned with the National Research Council’s new Framework for Science Education, which includes an explicit focus on engineering and design content, as well as integration across disciplines.
Top 3 STEM Books for IMPLEMENTING STEM EDUCATION
Once you have a firm grasp of STEM education, the next logical step is to try it! Here are three
books that serve as excellent starting points for the parent or teacher new to STEM education:
- Learn with Play: 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning: Your little one will never be bored with the Learn with Play activity book filled with over 150 ideas for fun and learning year-round. Watch your little one learn by doing and enjoy activities together. This activity book for kids will never leave you stumped on the next fun craft,
game, or project to keep your child entertained and challenged. For children ages 1 to 5
- 50 New STEM Labs – Science Experiments for Kids (50 STEM Labs) (Volume 4): These projects support the engineering design process and provide learning in technical fields in a fun, hands-on, and sometimes competitive way. Keep kids engaged in STEM and learning creatively! For children of all ages
- STEM Through the Months – Back to School Edition: for Budding Scientists, Engineers, Mathematicians, Makers and Poets: Using monthly themed events as a springboard and the maker movement for inspiration, kids build cross-curricular connections as they explore STEM. The projects and poetry lessons have been classroom-tested and provide enjoyable learning experiences in a variety of learning environments: home schooling; after-school programs; scouting; gifted and talented programs; extra-curricular clubs; and more. For children of all ages
The strategies presented in these books do not require parents and teachers to toss out their old ways and invest massive amounts of time and effort to adopt a completely different approach. Rather, these books will result in a gradual integration of STEM within existing practices. Teachers and parents will learn to identify and connect to the STEM that is already happening within daily life, with a focus on natural, situational STEM learning as opposed to contrived STEM education. In ‘doing STEM’ students learn how to think, ask questions, and find their own answers. Society is in desperate need of kids who can do these things proficiently, and STEM is the only approach that can truly accomplish this in a cohesive, authentic manner.
About the Author:
Ashley Pereira began her career as an inner-city science teacher, and is now Owner of Career In STEM®, the world’s leading provider of engaging STEM career resources. She is blessed to work with clients throughout the world to provide diversifying STEM experiences, obtain grant funding, and implement innovative STEM and CTE programs. Ashley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.