This has got to be one of the most frequently asked questions we receive when we speak about our STEM program or even why we chose to develop the Step Up STEM Program. Here’s the low down.
According to some research…
STEM is important because life is changing, technology is growing and the jobs available in the future will be very different from what’s available today. According to research conducted by Dell Technologies in 2017, “around 85% of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.” This is a staggering number and finding that greatly impacts how parents and educators approach education for our students who will be entering a future that is yet to be defined.
One of the goals of education is to allow our students to explore topics of interest to them, but to also ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the world as adults. However, when the world is changing and we are unsure of what jobs to prepare our students for, it becomes even more important for educators and parents to develop skills.
Skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, reflection, and so on are transferable and surpass disciplines. This alongside a focus on connections to science, technology and mathematics will allow students to see the static nature of education and allow them to transfer their knowledge among varying situations.
Statistics Canada and it’s STEM Connections
According to the most recent Statistics Canada Results from 2016, when looking at the number of positions by their NOC (National Occupational Classification), there are 2,864,150 STEM-related jobs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. In comparison to Business and Administration positions which are at 3,148,045, the number of professions in STEM do not compare, however when paired with the most recent report released by Dell Technologies which goes on to discuss the impact of technology in terms of robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, virtual reality and augmented reality by 2030, the role of technology in our professions cannot be explained in an isolated category as it’s reach continues to extend with every advancement.
The Changing Face of Education
For instance, as an educator it is easy to observe how many of our schools are now 1-to-1 where students are provided with, or bring in devices (i.e. laptop, chromebook, tablet) to interact via an online learning platform. Gone are the days when all students are required to bring in binders with dividers and large piles of photocopying is done. In a world where we are moving towards being more environmentally and economically conscious, educators are utilizing various online platforms and cloud computing to adapt to this new era of modern learning.
With all said, effective STEM Education is not isolated to simply learning topics related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but recognizing how these four disciplines intertwine with topics outside of the conventional STEM discipline. We (as in the educators of Step Up Academy of Learning) believe that a students’ ability to make connections to the material they learn and this transfer of knowledge is important for them to be adaptable and resilient in an ever-changing world.
The Step Up Approach to STEM
Our approach to STEM Education is to show students how the disciplines of science, technology engineering and mathematics CONNECT to any research focus they choose so as to engage our learners and show them the relevance of STEM. As teachers we know that the best learning happens when our students are engaged and they see a purpose in what they are learning. If there is no purpose, there is no personal connection, and therefore, no learning.
It is out of this philosophy of learning and recognition of how our world is changing whether we want it to or not, that guides our Step Up STEM Program. We have had learners come through the program exploring topics of a wide range from the most effective basketball shots and water filters, to volcanoes and taxonomy, where with the support of a teacher, students have been able to see the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to their personal interests.
The end goal of he Step Up STEM Program is not to indoctrinate our students with the disciplines of STEM, but instead show them that these STEM connections are all around them, even to things they might not have seen before. Therefore when learning about the science, technology and mathematics behind small things, they can creatively engineer projects beyond expectations and start to recognize the impact they can have on the world.