Today’s world is highly technology-driven and a report titled “Realising 2030: A divided vision of the future” published by Dell Technologies has mentioned that “85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet”.
Therefore, it is expected that the world will witness major technological shifts in the near future. To get along with a tech-driven world, it is imperative to incorporate STEM education in mainstream academic curriculum and prepare children from an early age to be future-ready.
STEM education and its benefits: STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is an experiential learning approach to science, which emphasises the application of scientific and mathematical concepts in real-life situations.
It can groom the next generation to meet the needs of the industry – problem-solving skills and development of quick and cost-effective solutions.
The core content of stem education comprises robotics, information systems, free open-source software, new technological applications, electronic appliances, and engineering design processes used in a transdisciplinary platform along with the basic concepts of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and information technology.
Early years of education and STEM: Numerous researches have claimed that the experiences that a child gains in their early years influence their brain architecture. In other words, brain development is most robust in the initial years of a child’s life.
Therefore, it is the best time to introduce basic STEM education to help spark their curiosity and imagination, and promote the development of analytical skills.
How interactive early education benefits STEM thinking: Better communication and interaction play an important part in early childhood education. Therefore, kids learn more when they learn through different activities.
Group activities, frequent amusing questions and interaction with peers hone their thinking skill, which is beneficial for stem learning. According to a research, more than 150 empirical studies on cognitive and developmental psychology and education, reveals the significance of interactive early education and how it helps STEM literacy. Let’s explore some of the findings of the same.
Children need to play more to become strong STEM thinkers: Children learn by playing. Through play, be it building blocks, board games or magic tricks, children learn about the world and get exposed to logical thinking.
They get accustomed to following rules as every game comes with certain rules and regulations. This practice develops their brain plasticity for lifelong learning.
The participation of adults in guided play is not only required to help shape the learning experience of children but is also an effective method for teaching STEM content to young learners. Such play helps children gain leadership quality as these games encourage children to lead a group.
This is not all; adults asking logical and amusing questions frequently enhance children’s thinking skills and play a significant role in their brain development.
Enriched vocabulary enables STEM thinking: While children engage in STEM experiences, they get introduced to new words. Accumulation of new words further enriches their vocabulary.
Growing vocabulary helps children to express complex ideas better. This is not all, early exposure to new words pertaining to different concepts support children to master higherorder thinking.
Interaction helps to unlock abstract thinking potential: According to modern research, children are filled with abstract ideas. Their thought process can reach beyond tangible concepts if they are challenged and supported well to do so.
Their ideas and imagination are not restricted to their first-hand experiences. Children with developed executive function skills (EFs) which include paying attention, understanding different perspectives, self-monitoring etc help them to incorporate new information well and let them easily ignore irrelevant information during abstract problem-solving.
Such capabilities and strong EFs are much required for long-term stem success. Therefore, if the right sets of questions are posed to kids, they can easily solve a complex problem, unlocking their abstract thinking potential.
Parents and facilitators can take necessary actions to lay more emphasis on communication and hands-onlearning while teaching a child. These steps can play a major role in making the child ready for a STEM-rich future.
(The writer is CEO and co-founder, Next Education India Pvt Ltd)