IMPORTANCE OF STEM EDUCATION IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
Within elementary education, the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are getting more attention. While some might question why young children need STEM education, many teachers, education experts, and government agencies argue that it’s never too soon to introduce it in elementary schools. Doing so can encourage young students to solve problems, use critical thinking, and eventually become professionals who contribute to an increasingly competitive and developing global economy.
Why Do Elementary Schools Need STEM?
The United States lags behind other developed nations when it comes to providing the STEM education that can prepare enough professionals to fill crucial scientific and technical roles. One reason for the shortfall might be that too few elementary school teachers feel prepared to teach STEM-based subjects like science or engineering. The need to equip young children with a wide range of fundamental skills often doesn’t allow teachers to have specialized knowledge in any one subject.
Nevertheless, schools best serve their students when they find innovative ways to incorporate STEM into the curricula. Helping children develop their science and technology skills early enables them to comprehend and apply these topics throughout their education and adult life. Children also become better equipped for record-keeping, engaging in inquiry, and communicating about science.
Young children are generally capable of understanding STEM topics taught in an age-appropriate manner. Scientific inquiry fits well with young children’s innate learning tendencies. Students in grades K-2 are naturally curious, and they respond well to learning experiences that allow them to explore and experiment.
What Does Elementary School STEM Instruction Look Like?
Schools can deliver and promote STEM in various ways. When teaching core subjects like reading and basic math, educators can engage students in activities that facilitate problem-solving, spatial reasoning, and identifying shapes. As children get older, they can explore specialized topics that teach them about physical science, object movement, technology development and use, and structure building.
Some children attend STEM elementary schools with curricula that focus on practical application of science and technology to supplement classroom learning. These schools offer applied math, coding, engineering basics, movement and mechanics, robotics and sensors, and other related subjects.
One such school is Benton Elementary School in Columbia, MO. Not only does Benton offer STEM courses, but their teachers use a “STEM Education lens” to integrate learning across all subjects. For example, suppose first-graders are learning about light and sound. In science class, they get hands-on experience with the topic. During their reading and writing times, they read books and complete writing assignments on the same subject.
Benton Elementary forges community partnerships to help students understand and apply STEM topics to real-life problem-solving. Educators organize field trips and virtual visits, such as to city hall to learn about local government. The school also invites expert speakers like meteorologists or climate scientists to talk about their work. Benton Elementary claims that program success depends on partnerships with the community, which involves mutually sharing resources.
What Can Schools Do?
School districts can do a lot to advance STEM education at all levels. One strategy is to create specialist teaching positions, such as a K-5 STEM teacher. If school administrators can’t hire such specialists, they can work with teachers to figure out how to integrate relevant learning activities into the school day. Educators can also search for STEM resources online to bring more hands-on learning and problem-solving opportunities into the classroom.
Teachers in various school settings can give their students a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM education helps young students think critically and creatively about the world around them. It also prepares them to be the leaders who will shape the future economy and global marketplace.Article written by Juliann, published by Admin