The subjects that comprise STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—are more crucial to our world than ever, but sometimes students are less than enthused to study them. In this post, we'll highlight four ways to encourage your students' interest in STEM.
Importance of STEM
In March of 2015, President Barack Obama noted the importance and growing prevalence of STEM and STEM-related occupations in our world and made it a priority to boost the number of students (and teachers) who are well-trained in the essential areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Unfortunately, some students may view STEM subjects as boring, or simply don't understand the critical roles they play in our society. As a result, these students may not care to study these subjects in depth. Lack of training among teachers might also play a role in students' subpar enthusiasm and/or understanding of STEM subjects.
So, what can you do to encourage your students' interest in STEM and make these areas more engaging and meaningful? Check out our ideas below.
1. Be Prepared
As we just mentioned, lack of proper training among teachers may have a direct correlation to students' disinterest in STEM. Students can tell when you're unprepared, and such observations typically don't end well for either party—you or them.
Depending on your level of training and expertise, you might need to take it upon yourself to actively research STEM so that you can a) thoughtfully create lessons and b) be confident while applying STEM education in the classroom. You should also be as enthusiastic as possible about the concepts you're covering. Both confidence and enthusiasm can go a long way towards engaging your students and encouraging them to be responsive, motivated learners who are actually interested in furthering their STEM knowledge (versus, say, just learning the basics because they have to).
2. Get Real
A quality STEM education goes way beyond the traditional (and often unengaging) textbook lesson and corresponding worksheet method of teaching. In other words, if you want your students to become genuinely interested in STEM, you should try your best to provide worthwhile, hands-on experiences that relate concepts to real world issues and topics, stimulate critical thinking and make students hungry for more.
For example, maybe you could have your students explore climate change by performing an experiment that investigates the science behind the greenhouse effect. Or, perhaps your class could practice engineering by designing buildings or bridges that can withstand the effects of natural disasters.
When it comes to exploring the constantly evolving topic of technology, you could have your students research older communication or recording devices (or even bring them in, if possible) and then compare them to what's currently available to showcase how much things change in a relatively short period of time. To relate math to real life, you could have your class record gas prices in a few different areas over a certain period of time and then find the mean, median and mode of the numbers, one of many relevant activities when you consider all of the everyday items and situations that evolve from STEM.
3. Highlight Industry Leaders
Another way to get your students interested in STEM is to highlight/study famous individuals who've become successful (or were successful) in STEM-related fields. By showcasing what hard work and dedication can do and by providing real-life examples, students may be more apt to grasp the magnitude of STEM's importance in the world and look to these well-known individuals as role models.
STEM encompasses many different fields and occupations. Here are some examples of industry leaders you could introduce to your class:
- Jane Goodall (anthropologist)
- Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple, Inc.)
- Elon Musk (engineer and entrepreneur)
- Sally Ride (astronaut)
- Mark Zuckerberg (co-founder of Facebook)
4. Incorporate Online Resources
The Internet offers an abundance of valuable resources that can make STEM subjects fun and interesting for students. From online courses featuring engaging video lessons to game-based apps that make learning an interactive experience, there's no shortage of resources that can help you encourage your students' interest in STEM.
Prepare Tomorrow's Leaders
While it can take some preparation on your part, providing your students with a meaningful STEM education may encourage their interest and spur them on to keep exploring the world of science, technology, engineering and math. You never know—you might be influencing some of society's future STEM leaders!
Would you like more information on how to implement STEM into your classroom? Check out this resource from Study.com today!