By Amanda Hughens
K-12 STEM Outreach Manager, Strategic Educational Alliances
One of the things that excites me most about being a teacher is offering my students new and exciting opportunities using methods and technologies in a creative and meaningful way.
The classroom can be a laboratory of how to think and question. One initiative that allows me to do this is science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in education. STEM utilizes all core academic areas by integrating teaching and learning into everyday life and real-world scenarios.
For example, I use science to facilitate an understanding of the world around us. I look for ways that my students can explore what they know; ask and answer questions that they encounter; and solve them through experiences, testing and trial and error.
To help my students select the best tool for solving problems, I research and implement the most applicable modes of technology. These may include various applications, devices and resources that are continually brought to the forefront.
As they work to solve the problems utilizing the most relevant forms of technology, they act as engineers. In my class, this takes the form of designing a product to solve the problem that had been identified.
As they design their product, my students integrate math to explain what they know and what they design using a scientist’s language – universal language that people throughout the world use to understand and cut through the barriers of culture, language and bias.
Woven into STEM are many other content areas. For instance, my students use language arts by reading information, discussing the topic with others and reporting their findings. Additionally, students can apply lessons learned from history in enhancing their engineered solutions. Another area which can be integrated with STEM is fine arts. Students can demonstrate their mastery of various concepts through music, art and dance.
In Arizona, Grand Canyon University has taken initiatives to lead the development of STEM education. In addition to the creation and implementation of world-class programs in various STEM fields including engineering, computer science and health care, GCU has created and is providing a variety of STEM-based programs for K-12 students, teachers and parents.
For example, every month on the second Saturday, GCU hosts STEM Saturdays, where students can experience areas such as 3D design and printing, electrical engineering projects and geospatial navigation. During the summer, both overnight and day camps are offered. Throughout the year, many events occur on campus.
Additionally, teachers have the opportunity to attend a variety of professional development events including one-day workshops (STEM Saturdays), evening sessions (make-it, take-it) and sessions offered by experts. Events such as the Google Summit and national speaker series are also available.
Most importantly, parents for students as young as preschool can come to campus to participate in our new Parent Series – Everyday STEM where they will learn a variety of options to expose their children to STEM. They are also invited to events for the entire family including STEM Saturdays in December and April.
So, how are you going to use STEM? Will you make your classroom a think tank for STEM? How will you cultivate creativity with STEM?
The possibilities are endless!
At GCU, our STEM degrees were developed with academic and industry guidance so that students receive a 21st century education. We also continue to introduce innovative new programs in computer science, information technology and engineering that help prepare students for a fulfilling career. Learn more about our STEM degrees by contacting us.
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