Published : Tuesday, August 14, 2018 | 5:11 PM
The push to promote STEM education continues to rank high on the agenda for educators, industry, and public policy makers alike. But have you ever wondered what exactly STEM education looks like, or what the big deal is? You may know that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But STEM education is about far more than just traditional science lessons.
Imagine a classroom – or lab – filled with lively, engaged students, carrying out their own experiments using real-world applications of scientific and technological principles. In this space, students are empowered to explore, investigate, ask questions, and make discoveries for themselves, all while developing the crucial skills involved in scientific inquiry. This is what STEM education, at its best, is all about.
This approach has developed from the desperate need both to improve learning in STEM fields, and to encourage more interest in STEM subjects among students. The U.S. is outperformed by other developed nations in STEM subjects, and only a small minority of high school students go on to undertake STEM degrees at university. As shared by one of STEM World’s Expert Fridays speakers, Baldwin Chiu, of that small percentage, many drop out before graduation, unprepared to cope with the rigors of a scientific or technical degree. To address this, he further explained that the White House launched a national campaign in 2012 titled, Stay With It. It is designed to encourage and motivate students in undergraduate engineering programs to stay with the field of study and graduate with an engineer’s degree.
Why does this matter? There is already high demand in the economy for STEM skills, and this demand is only expected to grow over coming years. Computer science and technical skills are in particularly high demand, but the broader critical-thinking and creative problem-solving skills developed through the STEM approach are increasingly sought across all sectors of the economy. STEM graduates experience lower unemployment and higher salaries, whether in STEM careers or not.
The STEM curriculum addresses the deficiencies in traditional science teaching by using more interdisciplinary and applied methods, allowing students to develop a deeper understanding of concepts and processes. When done right, this approach also develops confidence, team-work, independence, and analytical abilities, as well as being a huge amount of fun!
If you’re itching to get yourself (or your little ones) involved, STEM World, an innovative new STEM learning space which opened in May this year, has a dedicated and passionate staff aiming to inspire as well as educate the next generation of scientists. Having completed a successful summer program of STEM camps, they are ready to launch into the Fall schedule of exciting after-school and weekend workshops.
A range of experiences are available for all ages at their Pasadena center, which boasts a fully-equipped lab with state-of-the-art technology. Regular STEM Labs for ages 9+ are offered in Robotics, Bio-Chemistry, Engineering, and Programming. Teens can enjoy the challenge and excitement of the Cinema Lab, Drone Academy, and Aviator Lab. Meanwhile, younger children aged 6-8 are introduced to a range of subjects through STEM Kidz. Adults do not have to miss out on the fun, with access to MakerSpace workshops.
There is still a significant underrepresentation of women in STEM that urgently needs to be addressed, both for the benefit of women and girls and to the benefit of science and society. Excitingly, STEM World is initiating a program just for girls this Fall. STEM Girlz will run after school on Fridays for ages 12 and up.
Additional fun and special events are always being added to the program. Johnny Wu’s Magic Academy for ages 10 and up will run on Wednesday evenings, and check out STEM Expert Fridays (free to the public!) and Saturday Gamer Nights.
STEM World is located at 2245 E. Colorado Blvd., Unit 101, in Pasadena. For more information call (626) 247-4347 or visit https://www.stemworld.net/index.htm.