As the magical buzz word of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) continues to ring in our ears, we must not be led away down fruitless paths or towards lackluster solutions. From the top of every mountain there are people proclaiming a need for better STEM initiatives, but very few are answering the call in a meaningful way. It is a complex problem that needs to be solved early in a child’s life in order for the investment made in each child to pay worthwhile dividends later in life when they fill the gaping holes of talent that we are now facing.
Here’s what to look for in a worthwhile STEM initiative for your school:
1. Ease of implementation
Schools do not have time or resource to introduce teachers to entirely new methodologies. Time spent learning something new is time that is not spent with the children. An appropriate STEM solution needs to provide immediate benefit to the students without a lengthy learning curve to overcome.
2. Maintains teacher connection
There are many programs and software solutions that entirely remove the teacher from the equation – thus putting to waste the personal interaction, years of training, and purpose of going to school. A quality solution is one that engages both teachers and students alike.
3. Does it augment or replace the current curriculum?
There are many thought groups that believe the core of the problem is in the content being delivered. The current trend is to focus on the teacher and point a myriad of ugly fingers in their direction when a child fails. The true core is in both the delivery AND the reception of the information. Content is just as important as how that content is packaged and able to be received. It needs to be heard and understood. If your child doesn’t like broccoli, you’re not going to take the broccoli away and give them a different plate with more broccoli. You need to dress it up in a casserole. When I child doesn’t like math, don’t take the subtraction away and give them a bigger serving of mathematics. Dress it up! When a solution can properly take the subject and dress it up in such a way that the reception is positive and automatic then it can be considered a viable solution.
4. Attention to student needs
The problem with most software and technology solutions, especially when dealing with STEM initiatives, is that the there is only one path to every answer. If the path is too bumpy, and the kids begin tripping and falling – there is no way to correct it, they are literally left behind. A quality STEM technology initiative must be able to deal with challenges and confusions in the moment. It must be able to adapt to the needs of the student.
5. Does more than provide information
The heart of the STEM crisis in the U.S. is not a content problem, it’s an interest problem. Students that lose interest in their elementary years almost never regain that interest. However, those that carry an interest with them through their younger years almost never lose it as they grow up. The solution cannot simply provide information, it must engage and excite about that information. [Check out the upcoming post on “How vs. Why.”]
Everything we do at D.Sim is built around these points. For more information about the Discovery Simulations Spaceship Simulator Program please explore this site and let us know if you have any questions!