What is STEM Teaching and Why is it Important?

STEM Education Defined

STEM is an acronym commonly used when referring to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects. In recent years, there has been an increased level of importance around STEM education at the primary, secondary, and collegiate levels. This can be accredited to the rapidly rising STEM workforce that needs to be filled by qualified, innovative workers in the future. 

The key to providing quality STEM education to students is teachers. STEM educators and facilitators are essential to students’ success and confidence in their abilities. In this article, STEM Sports® explains the benefits of STEM education and how to become a STEM teacher who can impact the next generation of learners (and future STEM workers!). 

Six (6) Reasons Why STEM Teaching Is Important

STEM education has countless benefits to students that will positively translate to other areas of their education and life. Below is a list of ways that STEM teaching can help students improve both in and out of the classroom.

Gives Students Education Application Experience

STEM lessons are often connected to real world examples, allowing students to engage with the curriculum on a deeper level. This teaching method allows students to see what they are learning connects to the world around them and real life situations. The ability to connect curriculum to the real world is essential to students transitioning from the classroom to future careers. By starting this education application experience early, students will be better prepared as they progress through their education.

STEM Teaches Innovation

Innovative thinking is the process of assessing an idea and approaching it in a new, creative way. Oftentimes, this leads to a new approach to an existing problem and/or a new product that can be used to benefit society as a whole. STEM education promotes innovative thinking in students and allows them to practice looking at problems in a new way. By creating the next generation of innovators, we are helping to better our society and the constantly changing world around us.

Improves 21st Century Skills - Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

Creative thinking and problem solving skills are 21st century skills essential to a child’s success in their education and professional life. During STEM lessons, students learn to work through complex problems by strategically working through obstacles. By introducing these skills early in their education, we are better preparing students for future job interviews, in which employers recognize desirable skills in these candidates.

Teaches Teamwork and Collaboration

Teamwork and collaboration skills come naturally to some students. For others, this will take more practice and effort. A STEM curriculum allows students to work with their classmates to find a solution. The ability to effectively collaborate with others and listen to their ideas is a skill that transfers over to other subject areas, benefitting students as they continue through their education. 

Introduces Technology to Kids

Most kids in the current generation have phones, tablets, computers, video games, and more. However, this constant use of technology does not mean they understand the benefits or inner workings of devices. STEM lessons allow students to improve their technology literacy – an essential skill in the current job market.

Introduces STEM Career Options to Students at an Early Age

Because of their real world connections, STEM lessons introduce students to possible careers they didn’t even know existed. In every STEM Sports® lesson, students are given STEM jobs in sports that connect to the skills they are learning. This gives students real-world examples of when STEM skills are used, which increases engagement throughout the lesson. It also answers the commonly asked question, “why am I learning this?”. 

Here are a few example jobs featured in STEM Sports® curricula:

  • Golf Course Safety Engineer 
  • Stadium/Arena Supply Chain Manager 
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach 
  • Biomechanics Coach 
  • Internet Sports Producer

Teaching Methods to Effectively Implement STEM Curriculum

There are a variety of teaching methods to successfully implement STEM curriculum into the classroom. Below is a list of five (5) teaching methods to try with elementary school, middle school, and high school students.

Experiential Learning Method

The experiential learning method, also known as hands-on learning, is the process of allowing students to actively participate in a lesson. This equitable teaching method allows students to improve their skills, connect with the curriculum more deeply, and keep engagement high throughout the lesson. Especially in STEM, hands-on learning is essential to students being able to connect lessons to the world around them and/or to see why what they are learning is relevant.

Cross-Curricular Learning Method

Cross-curricular learning is the process of combining multiple subjects into one lesson. This connection allows students to exercise their education application experience to understand each subject on a deeper, more thoughtful level. For example, combining mathematics and soccer in a lesson about calculating calories and heart rate. In STEM Soccer, students predict and calculate calories burned during game play by using multiplication and division. Students then compare values by using calculations and descriptions. Through the use of sport, in this case soccer, students are improving their math skills while applying them to real-world situations. 

If you are interested in learning more about the cross-curricular teaching method, read The Benefits of Cross-Curricular Instruction.

Project Based Learning Method

Project based learning is focused around giving students real-world, hands-on experiences to help them understand what they are learning on a deeper level. These projects are long term and give students control over their own education. This method has been proven to increase the effectiveness of lessons through increased engagement and comprehension of the learning material.

Inquiry Based Learning Method

Inquiry based learning starts by giving students time before the lesson begins to formulate a list of questions. This gets students in a more critical and aware state before starting the lesson. As they work through the modules, students can answer their questions, refine their hypotheses, and, eventually, come to a conclusion based on what they have learned. This learning process is often used in science courses to improve student retention, which benefits them on exams and standardized tests.

Problem Based Learning Method

Problem based learning starts with the teacher or facilitator posing a question to the class. This question is then used to lead students through the lesson with the hope that every student has formulated an answer at the end. This approach is great for educators to track student success throughout the lesson. It also helps identify students who may need additional assistance on the material before moving on to the next lesson.

What is a STEM Teacher and How to Become One

All teachers are or can become a STEM teacher! Especially at the primary and secondary levels where teachers are responsible for providing students quality instruction on all the major subjects (STEM, english, history, etc). Specifically, at the secondary level in which teachers have the ability to specialize in particular subjects that they are passionate about.

What is a STEM Teacher?

A STEM teacher is any educator or facilitator who specializes in science, technology, engineering, or math subjects.

Qualities of a Successful Teacher in STEM

STEM educators are students’ first impactful people in STEM. By educators creating a positive connotation with STEM, students will want to continue taking STEM courses throughout their education and possibly pursue a STEM career. 

Below is a list of 10 qualities found in successful STEM teachers:

  • Patient 
  • Positive 
  • Empathetic 
  • Curious 
  • Energized  
  • Comforting 
  • Passionate 
  • Adaptable  
  • Strong Communicator 
  • Collaborative 

Educational and Certification Requirements of a STEM Teacher

In order to become a teacher, you must have a bachelor’s degree. This can be in education or a specific subject such as science, mathematics, or computer science. Many teachers also pursue a master’s degree to strengthen their teaching skills and specialize in certain areas.

Benefits of Becoming a STEM Teacher

Teaching is an extremely important and rewarding career. As an educator, you are making a lasting impact on the lives of children. By empowering and teaching the younger generations, you are helping to shape the future of our country and the world.

Learn More about STEM with STEM Sports®

If you are a parent, educator, or facilitator looking to learn more about STEM education at the elementary and middle school level, please read the following blogs:

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