Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lessons are foundational to a child’s education. Students begin participating in STEM learning as early as preschool and kindergarten. These frequent touchpoints with STEM curricula lead to STEM literacy, which benefits a child’s educational and personal development. One key benefit often overlooked when thinking about STEM education is the benefit it has to children outside of the classroom. In this article, we will review all of the ways STEM education helps students build life skills. This includes everything from tangible skills like financial literacy to soft skills, such as collaboration and critical thinking.
Cultivating Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Problem-Solving
STEM learning sparks a natural curiosity in students. This curiosity leads them to ask thoughtful questions and seek out answers and solutions. Throughout STEM lessons, students work independently and with others to find solutions to complex problems – further developing their collaboration and problem-solving skills. Critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills are three core soft skills that students develop, through STEM learning, that will benefit their personal development.
If you are an educator or parent looking for STEM lessons to implement with your student/children to help develop soft skills, read 23 Easy STEM Lessons for Elementary Students.
Fostering Creativity and Innovation
There are often discussions around STEM learning versus STEAM learning. While they are slightly different, both STEM and STEAM have the same core mission and approach to education: When students are interacting with engineering and technology lessons, they will naturally begin to think creatively. This natural shift to creative thinking and problem-solving leads to innovative thinking, which is key to a child’s future success in the STEM workforce and for the future of society.
Developing Adaptability and Resilience
STEM learning is not for the faint of heart! Throughout a student’s STEM learning journey, they will run into a variety of challenging, complex problems they have to solve. Through these difficult learning experiences, students develop adaptability and resilience. These are skills that will benefit them throughout their education, into future careers, and, even more importantly, in their personal lives.
Building Technological Fluency
Technology is rapidly advancing and it is impacting the workforce across all industries. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way people conduct business and their daily tasks. STEM learning provides students with hands-on experience using various technologies, which prepares them for quick adaptation to new technologies. This is a skill that will be a requirement for jobs moving forward – so, as educators, it is important to lean into the use of up-to-date technology in the classroom.
Financial Literacy Through Math Applications
Financial literacy is a key function of adults. But, oftentimes, it is not something actively taught in education. Through mathematics lessons, students gain the skills and knowledge required to manage monthly finances and understand economic principles. Whether it is educators turning lessons into real world applications or through general math literacy, STEM helps students to improve their understanding of money and budgeting. For example, educators can give students a set amount of money and have them do a grocery store simulation, providing a real world connection to a classroom lesson.
Time Management and Organization
Students spend 20% of their life in the classroom. This large chunk of time spent in the classroom gives educators a unique opportunity to help shape and form children during this fundamental time. Through classroom curricula, students learn time management and organization skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. As early as kindergarten, educators begin teaching students these skills and holding them accountable, which prepares them for future careers where they will be required to do this on their own.
A Foundation for the Future
The impact and importance of STEM education goes far beyond the classroom. STEM learning provides students with a variety of life skills they will carry with them throughout their education into their professional, adult lives. As educators and parents, we can lean into STEM lessons that continue to help students build these skills and exercise their soft skills.
If you are interested in learning more about STEM education and current trends in the space, click here to explore STEM Sports® blogs.