As evidenced by the name, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is a broad field of study. While STEM education is crucial to later educational development, teaching STEM can seem daunting to teachers, especially in the modern era. Many students struggle with mathematical concepts, and the idea of teaching such a broad field of study can become overwhelming.
Thankfully, some practices for setting up a STEM education can help make teaching STEM easier than ever. The critical thing to remember is that STEM is an interdisciplinary study, meaning that it encompasses several different topics. Therefore, incorporating STEM into your lesson plans can provide a well-rounded STEM education regardless of your learning background.
Importance of STEM
STEM education has been shown to increase confidence in teachers and children, and play-based exploration can significantly increase children's skills, especially at a young age. In addition, early STEM learning helps children become more confident in their skills and abilities and can help them become curious about how the world works.
By encouraging clever solutions, students learn to approach problems as a team and to communicate with their fellow students during experiments. This benefits students later in life, as collaboration is essential in the workforce, and creative solutions can help them in their day-to-day life. STEM studies have also been linked to increased students' math skills, which correlates to higher academic success due to the prevalence of mathematics-based curricula in higher education.
STEM learning can begin as early as kindergarten, exploring the natural world and everyday concepts like gravity, building towers, and more. However, the curriculum available for kindergarten students varies largely from that aimed at high school students. Thankfully, many STEM curriculum options are available, from government standardized curriculum guidelines to experiment lesson plans. Here at GIGIL, we offer a STEM subscription kit to help teachers engage with students over STEM topics and provide everything you need to research a wide range of topics each month.
For those looking to build their STEM curriculum, look for interdisciplinary topics that work into the other subjects your students learn in the year. For example, an Egyptology unit can operate well in engineering and architecture studies, while learning about space is the perfect time to work on a science experiment about gravity. While planning your STEM curriculum can take some creativity, prioritizing curiosity about the world and practical STEM learning alongside your existing learning plans can help make preparing a lesson plan a breeze.
STEM covers science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but these topics offer plenty of learning opportunities in various ways. For example, science can cover chemistry, biology, studies of the natural world, anatomy, and more. These lesson topics, in turn, can overlap with other fields of study. For example, artwork and anatomy go hand-in-hand, while engineering and early technology studies overlap. STEM is such a broad study topic; it's easy to see how its application across several disciplines can benefit students.
Technology studies are an essential part of STEM education. Students are better prepared for our technology-based society by instilling computer and technology skills. Not only are coordination skills like typing and basic computer science skills critical, but by teaching children how to use technology, you set them up for research success later in life, as finding good online sources can be difficult for students in higher education.
It's important to note that most topics can have aspects of STEM education in them; what matters most is how you teach said topics and make a conscious effort to include STEM in your lesson plans. For example, learning about ancient technology, studying how the natural world works, and exploring everyday examples of engineering can all benefit your students. Thus, while looking at STEM learning from the perspective of its base components can be helpful, seeing how STEM applies to each particular learning topic can offer surprising areas of overlap that enhance your students' learning experience.
STEM Teaching Style
An essential part of teaching STEM is encouraging curiosity in children. A large part of science involves curiosity about how things work, from how the earth spins to how chemical reactions occur. Encouraging students to make informed conjectures about how things work and helping them experiment with common reactions can inspire them and help instill a love of STEM. It is also essential to work STEM learning into several lesson plans.
As noted earlier, STEM combines several disciplines into one learning experience, and the same applies to using STEM across other subjects. For example, teachers can apply STEM to art projects, history lessons, and more, and by encouraging your students to see the connections between different studies, you are encouraging their growth.
While many STEM teachers lean into the mathematics portion of STEM, it is essential to note that a physical understanding of STEM topics is also necessary to prioritize. For example, while many students may become overwhelmed by early chemistry concepts, experimentation can help demystify the projects and help by forming a solid association between mathematical formulas and the experiments they did earlier.
Another thing worth noting is that STEM projects do not have to focus exclusively on science experiments; building towers, sketching plans, and even learning about computers can all be part of well-rounded STEM education. In general, good STEM teaching practices focus on encouraging creativity, integrating projects across disciplines, and meeting students at their interests to work in STEM lesson plans.
If you are looking for an easy way to integrate STEM into your education plans, check out our STEM subscription box. It has plenty of educational materials for students and features experiment kits and interlinked articles that allow motivated students to conduct their own research.
Here at GIGIL, we know the importance of early STEM education, which is why we provide resources for educators and students from all walks of life to help them better understand STEM studies. Check out some of our other articles to learn more about STEM learning and its impacts on students and teachers, as well as fun articles about molecules, gravity, and more STEM concepts for curious students.
GIGIL STEM Subscription Boxes bring STEM Education to your doorstep, with 5 activities each month and all the supplies you need to complete them! Just open up your STEM Kit and go (easy)! We have been tested and awarded by Mom's Choice Awards, Parents' Picks, and The National Parenting Center. Along with our subscriptions, we are approved by charter schools and offer wholesale rates for groups or classrooms.