As National STEM-STEAM Day 2019 approaches, it’s important for teachers to consider how they can increase student interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. It’s one of the most important roles a teacher can play in shaping the future of society.
That’s because the skills taught in STEAM help students learne how to solve problems, understand complex information and gather evidence to make the best decisions possible.
It’s especially a focus as National STEM-STEAM Day approaches on Nov. 8, 2019.
The Importance of STEAM
The U.S. Department of Education writes that STEAM skills are necessary “if we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors and workers have the ability to understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce."
That’s a big task. Much of it falls on the shoulders of teachers.
Teachers who want the latest knowledge about engaging students in STEM - and earn professional credit while doing so - can check out continuing education courses from Fresno Pacific University such as Inspire STEM Learning or earn a STEM Teaching Certificate. FPU is also launching a new course titled STEAM-Propelled Learning. The course aims to support teachers in their knowledge of how to incorporate STEAM learning into the classroom and how to leverage the arts to enhance problem-solving, student engagement and content learning.
Engaging Students in STEAM
Teachers have many options when it comes to encouraging students' interested in STEAM. The following ideas are based on information from the Fresno Pacific University courses and the U.S. Department of Education.
Concepts are one thing in STEAM. But being able to put those concepts into action can draw the interest of even more students, as well as advance their critical thinking skills. Ideas include designing buildings, boats or cars. Technology can be explored by introducing students to virtual reality - or showing them examples of older technology so they can understand how quickly things have changed.
Art projects using a variety of mediums can also expand a student's creativity and boost their confidence.
Amazon offers a great example of schools and local businesses teaming up by inviting local students to tour their facilities in the Seattle area so they can see both the company headquarters and a robotic fulfillment center. While you may not have access to Amazon in your area, there are plenty of tech, engineering and scientific research companies along with art museums and studios that might be willing to partner with your school, giving students the chance to see professional STEAM workers on the job.
The Department of Education writes that “this is why collaboration between corporate America and the education sector is key to promoting this awareness.”
Enter Competitions and Science Fairs
Nothing brings out the innovative spirit of students like participating in competition. The idea is not to focus as much on winning as in applying ideas to STEAM projects that will raise interest and motivate students to do their best. This is another way that corporations and businesses can provide aid through sponsoring competitions and science fairs.
Learn About Leaders
STEAM fields have many interesting stories to share about people who have become famous for their innovations and skills. Teaching students about these leaders can provide inspiration. Famous STEAM field innovators and pioneers include women such as astronaut Sally Ride, anthropologist Jane Goodall and early tech pioneer Radia Perlman. With so few female students entering STEM fields, this can serve as an important inspiration for young women.
Educating Teachers First
Teachers can improve their STEAM teaching skills through courses offered by the Fresno Pacific University continuing education program. In addition to the courses mentioned above, teachers can also take 3D Modeling For Educators and Coding in the Classroom. By taking such courses from Fresno Pacific University, teachers not only enjoy self-paced courses online but also the advantage of earning professional teaching credits from an accredited university.
Why This Is Important
The ACT, in its 2018 “The Condition of College and Career Readiness” report, found that the readiness of high school students for college math had dropped since 2014. They also found that readiness for college science has varied in the past five years, with no clear sign of upward or downward movement.
They also report that only 20% of 2018 high school graduates met the testing agency’s STEM readiness benchmark. That is a drop from 21% in 2017. The number of graduates interested in STEM-related careers also dropped three percentage points to 45%.
This is where teachers can make a difference. And they can become better prepared to take on this challenge by earning professional credits through Fresno Pacific University.