We seem to be hearing a lot about STEM and STEAM education lately, but what are they? With new technologies constantly being developed and innovation happening every day, there is a growing theory that the next generation will be looking for work in careers that don’t yet exist. This thinking has led to the Educational sector to look in to ways of ensuring that children are equipped with skills that make them career ready – even if we don’t know what that is yet. This is where STEM and STEAM comes in.
What is STEM and STEAM?
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths form the basis of STEM learning. Focusing explicitly on scientific areas, the intention of STEM is to teach children methods of inquiry-based learning. When they are grown and ready to enter the workforce, they will have developed the skills and understanding to solve real world problems using new technologies.
STEAM incorporates all aspects of STEM, however, also includes subjects under the Arts umbrella. According to Dr Therese Keane, the Deputy chair of the Department of Education at Swinburne University in Victoria, STEAM focuses on four key skills that are critical for learning in the 21 st Century known as the 4 C’s:
- Collaboration: using inquiry-based learning, children are encouraged to work with their peers.
- Communication: through collaboration, children discuss and understand the problem they are presented with.
- Critical Thinking: when discussing, children are required to think critically in order to solve the problem.
- Creativity: through critical thinking, children have the ability to solve a problem creatively and open-endedly.
By developing these skills at a young age, children will be ready for the workforce and be able to understand the potential of “what if” when solving real world problems.
Why is STEM and STEAM education important?
With around 65% of the children now entering primary school expected to be employed in roles that do not yet exist, our educators need to innovate and upskills the core competencies of children at an early age. This means ensuring they hold multiple areas of expertise, and preparing them with the ability to holistically understand and solve problems, both in their careers and in their personal lives.
Ways to bring a little of this into your home
You know your child best and will know whether they’ll flourish with STEM or STEAM, and from there, what would help that development. We’ve pulled together some suggestions for each of the competencies if you do want to bring STEM and STEAM into your home:
Science is broken down into Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and focuses on examining the structure and behaviour of both the physical and natural world through
observation and experiment.
Technology studies expose children to a wide range of practical experiences, which allow them to develop a knowledge and understanding of contemporary
and advancing technologies.
In Engineering, children investigate a range of applications in the field and apply this knowledge to solve engineering problems.
Art includes the study of humanities, language, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media. By encouraging creativity, Arts allows students to solve problems by thinking out of the box.
Mathematics prepares children for real world problems by teaching them reasoning, analytical and problem-solving skills.