What is STEM
The future of the economy is in STEM … That’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.
We can only agree with these words by James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington (D.C). STEM is an abbreviation offered in 2001 by NSF researchers to speak about a revolutionary trend in educational and professional spheres. The concept of STEM covers science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and refers to educational programs and professions that integrate knowledge and skills in these areas.
When we talk about STEM education and STEM professions, these four branches (parts of the abbreviation) are not only closely related, but are also built on from one another. For example, mathematics can become a foundation for physics, and physics, in turn, a base for engineering. Later, engineers can use their knowledge of physics to create high-tech devices needed to test theories in physics. And advances in physics may lead to new engineering developments or creating new gadgets.
Although STEM talk is extremely popular, there still is little consensus on what a STEM profession is.
Experts agree, however, that “STEM workers use their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, or math to try to understand how the world works and to solve problems.” STEM education can be similarly defined, where the major idea would be that children try to understand how the world works. This is an unusual definition, but still an apt turn of phrase. It helps to notice fundamental changes in educational and professional demands, inextricably linked to the rapid changes occurring in the world. Modern life is fast and changeable; it requires knowledge of technology and strong analytical skills. And modern professions are increasingly at the intersection of disciplines, mostly natural science and technology.
STEMmania started with changes in education. After all, new professions, emerging daily, required skills helping to solve problems across disciplines, and school often failed to provide such knowledge for children. Teachers focusing on STEM use different approaches in their work. They organize projects or enhance classes with extracurricular activities and competitions, for example, "Let us build a city" or "Make a robot". Children also have a chance to get to know STEM workers.
Even though STEM acronym emerged in the US, STEM education is evolving around the world. Many countries, for example, Great Britain, Israel, Australia, Korea, China and Singapore, are developing state STEM educational programs. Asian countries have made a significant progress. Singapore is especially famous for its 2002 initiative of transforming the city-state of Singapore into the world center of creativity, innovation and design. Focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Singapore has anticipated many of key education strategies adopted by modern politicians and scientists.
Introduction of STEM education enhances economy; according to recent statistical data, engaging only 1% of the population into STEM professions considerably increases the country's GDP.
But what if children are small? Can we develop the qualities of inventors and researchers before they go to school? Yes! Educational toys – STEM toys – will help you in this endeavor. We call them educational because they give children an idea of the world around them and introduce the funamental principles of how the world works. When children play with STEM toys, they act as researchers conducting scientific experiments.
Children of all ages adore STEM toys. If a kid is 3 years old, he or she can assemble a block wooden construction set. These toys develop fine motor skills, spatial imagination, help to learn colors, geometric shapes, etc. Older children or teenagers will benefit from more complex construction sets that develop logical thinking, engineering skills, and often help acquire knowledge in physics, chemistry and other subjects.
By the way, STEM toys are fascinating not for children only. Adults too will find interesting things for themselves here. For example, mechanical 3D puzzles are now gaining more and more grown-up admirers all over the world. First, you assemble just a car or train model, and the next thing you know is that it is a real hobby, and your house has a huge collection of wooden models you have created.
Most Programming or Science&Experiments kits involve an active participation of parents or simply adults. Thus, you can become a guide to the world of knowledge and inventions for your children, helping them to assemble a satellite or to study the astronomical phenomena of solar and lunar eclipses. A small scientist will learn about modern water purification technologies and build a water filtration station right on your desktop. The whole family can assemble an LED flashlight or another electronic device using an electronic construction set – and it is a wonderful opportunity for a child to learn about the principles this device uses, at the same time easily – in a playful manner – learning physics. Or you can program a robot and teach it to perform many simple and complex actions! Open the wonderful world of science to your children, and you will inspire them for new inventions and projects!
If you wish your children to become successful and competitive, if you want them to easily find their place in life, give them a chance to learn about the world while playing. May they become innovators, researchers and leaders of engineering who will be solving most pressing issues for humanity tomorrow! And let them start today. We will happily help you with it.