STEM is an acronym used to clump science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects. STEM education has become increasingly important in recent years as educators prepare students for the rapidly growing STEM workforce. According to the STEM Education Guide, STEM occupations have increased by 79 percent since 1990. This trend is expected to continue as new jobs are created based on the rapidly progressing technology space – where new inventions are changing how society functions daily. These statistics show the importance of students improving their knowledge and understanding of STEM at an early age. In this article, you will learn about STEM literacy and the importance of emphasizing STEM skills in early childhood education.
Defining STEM Literacy
STEM literacy refers to the ability to understand, apply, and critically analyze concepts and principles in the four core STEM subjects. Traditionally, literacy focuses on reading, writing, and communication skills. STEM literacy expands the definition and application of literacy by incorporating scientific inquiry, problem-solving, computational thinking, and logical reasoning skills. STEM has become an essential component of educators’ curriculum maps, which focus heavily on a deeper understanding of curricula that allows students to make real-world connections. By introducing STEM education into the classroom curriculum, students improve their STEM literacy to help prepare them for future careers and strengthen their 21st-century skills.
Why STEM Literacy Matters for Kids
STEM education promotes critical thinking by encouraging students to ask questions, analyze information, and evaluate evidence. It helps them develop a curious and inquisitive mindset, enabling them to think critically and make informed decisions. STEM literacy nurtures problem-solving skills in children. Through hands-on lessons and real-world examples, STEM learning processes encourage perseverance, creativity, and the ability to think outside the box, equipping them with invaluable problem-solving skills that can be applied across various domains.
STEM literacy is not limited to academic or career success; it also has practical applications in daily life. By understanding scientific principles, children can make informed decisions about their health and well-being. For instance, they can evaluate nutritional labels, comprehend the impact of environmental factors on their surroundings, and engage in sustainable practices.
It is vital for students to foster critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and creativity, preparing them for future careers and everyday life. STEM literacy empowers children to make connections between theoretical concepts and real-world scenarios, allowing them to apply their knowledge in practical ways. By prioritizing STEM education, we equip children with the tools they need to improve their STEM literacy and actively contribute to society.
The Impact of STEM Literacy on Academic Success
STEM literacy is an essential skill students need to develop during early childhood. Early introduction to STEM subjects gives students a strong foundation, allowing them to gain confidence and comfort in the subjects. When students improve their STEM skills early, there is a higher probability they will continue to take STEM courses throughout their education and pursue STEM careers.
The skills learned during STEM lessons have an impact outside of the core STEM curriculum and the classroom. STEM learning improves students problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. These skills have a positive impact on a child’s education and personal development.
Strategies to Promote STEM Literacy at Home and School
There are a variety of ways parents and educators can promote students to improve their STEM literacy. Below is a list of tactics for at home and in the classroom to help students strengthen their STEM skills.
- Encourage curiosity and ask questions about the world around them.
- Incorporate STEM-related games and activities.
- Engage in hands-on experiments and projects.
- Make connections to real-world situations.
- Implement hands-on STEM lessons.
- Promote cross-curricular learning, such as combining physical education and science or math and history.
Resources to Foster STEM Literacy
There are tools available to help students improve their STEM literacy at home and at school. Regardless of learning style, there are tools and materials that can help facilitate STEM lessons and push students to improve their STEM literacy. Below are resources, both free and paid, for students who are interested in expanding their knowledge of STEM subjects.
- Teachers Pay Teachers: An online resource with a variety of lesson plans, interactive games, and resources for educators facilitating STEM lessons.
- Science Buddies: Includes fun, hands-on STEM lessons for K-12 students. Many of these activities can be done in any environment.
- BrainPop: Online STEM games to get students engaged and excited about improving their STEM literacy.
- Code Monkey: Code Monkey offers games to help students improve their coding skills. These games range in difficulty, which makes it great for any grade level.
- STEM Sports®: STEM Sports® offers K-8 supplemental STEM curricula that uses sports as a way to facilitate STEM lessons.
STEM Sports: An Effective Tool for Enhancing STEM Literacy
The STEM Sports® curriculum utilizes hands-on, cross-curricular teaching methods to help improve students’ STEM literacy. Each lesson introduces students to complex STEM subjects and connects them to real-world applications. For example, in STEM Baseball students design an experiment that collects evidence on gravity and pushing forces on two different pitching motions. Students then justify their explanation using key terms of balanced and unbalanced forces. In this lesson, they are learning about balanced and unbalanced forces through baseball pitching motions/mechanics. The real-world connection in STEM lessons helps students to understand why what they are learning is important and promotes deeper comprehension of the material.
STEM Sports® curricula is the perfect option for an educator or school administrator looking to enhance their STEM lesson plans. To learn more about how you can start improving your students’ STEM literacy with STEM Sports®, click here.