What is STEM?
Science ,Technology, Engineering and Maths
Why teach STEM?
Every country in the world is reforming their education system at the current time. Why? Well we are told it is because we are not preparing students with the skills and attributes they need for the future. Many jobs in the future will depend on students have a really good basis in STEM.
“Science and technology are at the heart of every major challenge we face: rebuilding transport systems in major town and cities, climate change, space exploration,creating a healthy economy. Yet every year the number of Graduates in STEM decreases in New Zealand”
Our government has created a new initiative called Curious Minds. “A Nation of Curious Minds is the blueprint for the Science in Society project. In July 2014, the Minister of Science and Innovation, Hon Steven Joyce, and the Minister of Education, Hon Hekia Parata, launched A Nation of Curious Minds, the Government’s plan to encourage and enable better engagement with science and technology across New Zealand society.
The plan, A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara, recognises the important role scientific knowledge and innovation play in our lives and in creating and defining New Zealand’s future, economically, socially and environmentally.”
Through the MOA Kluster we have been developing exciting new partnerships and focus, for some months. We have been developing a STEM focus.We are still at the beginning of our journey. We had a combined meeting with the BOT from the four schools and we have agreed that this is a direction that is important for our students and their future.
So What Are We Doing About It?
Maths: Each school has designated a lead teacher to review our direction for 2016. These teachers will be working cross school to explore what is working well and what we need to improve. Having a cross cluster focus adds strength to this review. These teachers will also be exploring different ways to teach maths to help our students to become “maths problem solvers”
Science: The schools are working alongside one another to share professional development. We are currently building working partnerships both in New Zealand and overseas to strengthen our knowledge and skills in this area. Science and maths will be a major focus for our schools in 2016.
So What About Engineering? Do You Actually Do That At Primary School?
The short answer is YES.
If you’ve ever watched children at play, you know they’re fascinated with building things—and with taking things apart to see how they work. In other words, children are natural-born engineers. When children engineer in a school setting, research suggests several positive results:
Building Science and Math Skills
Engineering calls for children to apply what they know about science and math—and their learning is enhanced as a result. At the same time, because engineering activities are based on real-world technologies and problems, they help children see how disciplines like math and science are relevant to their lives.
Research suggests engineering activities help build classroom equity. The engineering design process removes the stigma from failure; instead, failure is an important part of the problem-solving process and a positive way to learn. Equally important, in engineering there’s no single “right” answer; one problem can have many solutions. When classroom instruction includes engineering, all students can see themselves as successful.
21st Century Skills
Hands-on, project-based learning is the essence of engineering. As groups of students work together to answer questions like “How large should I make the canopy of this parachute?” or “What material should I use for the blades of my windmill?” they collaborate, think critically and creatively, and communicate with one another.