There’s no doubt STEM (science, technology, math and engineering) is an important subject and one with the potential to mend the ongoing skills gap happening within the manufacturing industry. To date, it’s been thought the key to spreading the word is through continuing exposure to STEM-related classes at an early age and presenting STEM material in a way that makes learning fun.
A newer development in the STEM movement is STEAM, providing the addition of creativity to traditional STEM with a dose of the arts. STEAM projects help students to not only think analytically but also inventively. The addition of arts to traditional science, math, engineering and technology is a way to keep the learning fun and encourage brainstorming on another level. Another benefit of STEAM is the addition of a tactile element to traditional STEM exploration. For example, this could include activities such as building a circuit that lights up a tiny LED light or activating a volcano explosion through the chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar, a perennial favorite.
Looking Beyond Schools
Since the discussion of STEM first came to the forefront, educators, legislators and business leaders have looked to the traditional school setting to build momentum for STEM from an early age. While STEM education is often covered in some form in elementary, middle and high school, another educational resource is stepping to the forefront. The public library, once solely thought of as a repository of books, is becoming a beloved scene for STEAM projects and Maker activities. With a growing number of public libraries offering Maker projects and activities, the library is a natural setting to make traditional learning more fun. In addition to reading about a subject, the STEAM element provides a hands-on, tactile approach to help the learning “stick.” This might include a theme about railroads and bridges where children have the opportunity to build structures out of toothpicks or pieces of dried pasta.
Learning for a Lifetime
These new approaches have the ability to take learning to a new level and make it fun and memorable. It is also a way to encourage exploration and problem solving for a lifetime of learning. This level of curiosity is something offering the ability to elevate traditional STEM work into something that could change the industry in the future through creative thought and innovation.
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