Studies of science and math education across various countries show that the United States, while not doing poorly, is easily outperformed by many other nations. Of course, STEM industries are the ones where job growth is expected to rise. How can new technologies better equip students for digital futures?
To improve the competencies of young Americans in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, new and innovative methods of teaching must be found. In a mass survey of students who left high school before graduating, over two-thirds reported their main reason was a lack of motivation. Finding a way to motivate students, then, is the key to keeping them in school and introducing them to new concepts, STEM and otherwise.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative and other U.S.-based academic systems aim to close this gap by setting forth general competencies for all students of a particular grade or age. While more focused on math and critical reading skills, these common educational requirements encourage standards of scientific study. For science and technology, labs and other hands-on learning activities can be highly beneficial.
Active Involvement in Learning
The resurgence of “learning by doing“ in more schools may well be the answer to success in STEM education. In essence, providing students with engaging hands-on activities can improve motivation and encourage success in technical courses. Sony’s KOOV Educator Kit, for instance, advances STEM education for students. The robotics and design kit combines digital coding and physical construction to instruct students on technological problems.
In his article, “What is the Future of STEM Education,” Dr. Matthew Lynch, Associate Professor of Education at Virginia Union University, suggests that educators find and use innovative ways to engage students physically as well as mentally in real-world learning activities so that they can realize the importance of STEM knowledge. He stresses that this approach must be made quickly if the U.S. is to remain competitive. Dr. Lynch contends that hands-on experiences and student involvement in such activities are the keys to improving American students’ low scores on math and science tests.
Incorporating Tech into the Classroom
Above all, the only way for students to learn about STEM is to expose them to it. The U.S. Department of Education encourages the use of classroom technology and digital learning tools, which have been proven to support 24/7 learning, increase engagement and motivation, and accelerate learning. Using technology benefits all students, but particularly those with a penchant for STEM courses; after all, exposure to this technology helps students apply opportunities for real-world, hands-on learning. In this regard, then, classroom technology is the key to unlocking the STEM potential of students across the country.