The Value of Early Training in STEM for 21st Century Skills.
The primary school years are important for encouraging healthy attitudes of curiosity and creativity that are part of a science and mathematics interest. However, education has to be developmentally appropriate. Discovery and exploration are key parts of early child education that are part of the STEM fields. Critical thinking and problem-solving are components of scientific thinking
The hard discipline of the STEM professions involves a lot that isn’t obvious during the early stages of encouraging interest in science. The primary school years are rich in potential for encouraging the growth of healthy attitudes of curiosity and creativity that are part of a science and mathematics interest. Developing 21st Century skills at an early age will benefit all in generations to come.
When children are encouraged to make their own creations out of building blocks, other materials, computers, or design objects which can be 3D printed, they are encouraged to think like engineers. Often children who build their own things have to calculate and plan like engineers or scientists. What is important for the development of science and mathematics has to fit and integrate with the rest of the school curriculum. STEM education needs to be approached in a cross-curricular way and meld with activities such as art, play, and music. What is important for the development of science and mathematics has to fit and integrate with the rest of the school curriculum.
The Value of Project Based Learning.
STEM education naturally fits with Makerspace or Project Based Learning (PBL), a teaching approach where students have to integrate many disciplines (for instance, science, art, and math) to tackle complex projects. Makerspace and PBL emphasizes creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. A well-designed 3D printing project requires all of these skills. In the process of collaborative creation, students simulate the real work of engineers, inventors, craftsmen.
Technical guru, Steve Jobs, himself the recipient of a broad education, once explained,
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough–that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”
In effect, technically trained engineers build a 3D printer and people with a broader human vision use the printer to make things that enrich the lives of people. America has always offered a broad education, not focused education only for the elite and not focused completely on vocational training.
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