In the month of May, we were lucky enough to be able to attend several conferences and we also got to speak about some topics that we at STEM Minds are very passionate about; gamification and cross-curricular learning!

If you were not able to catch us in action at the conferences, then check out this blog and our post from last week about gamification and e-learning! Our Creative Director Sam spoke at the CONNECT2019 conference in Niagara about using STEM to promote holistic student growth and development. Read on to hear what she had to say!

At STEM Minds, we believe that STEM education is the “secret to success” for preparing students for jobs across all industries, not just STEM disciplines! In fact, among many sought-after skills, employers often look for the ability to solve problems and make decisions, obtain and process information, and analyze data. All of these skills just so happen to be a by-product of STEM learning.

STEM is all around us, in the “real world” STEM isn’t isolated to science, technology, engineering, and math, so why should anyone teach it that way? Instead, we choose to focus on STEM and technology as a tool for the holistic learning of the whole child.

So how can we use technology as a foundation for cross-curricular learning?

Many of the courses we offer have cross-curricular and even cross-division applications. For example, learning about 3D design can be applied to countless subjects! A 3D printed house has connections to social studies (housing and environment), math (geometry and measurement), and art (architecture and design). 3D printing movie props can have connections to art, drama, and language (reading writing, media).

Even creating video games can have cross-curricular connections! You can tie nearly any grade or subject to video game design, no matter what grade the students are in. You can also build upon these skills as the students progress, it’s not just a “one-and-done” kind of activity. Just because they have done it once, doesn’t mean they have learned it all. Students can easily create games to demonstrate their own understanding of different subjects as well as create games that can be a teaching tool for others to learn about a certain subject.

We also want to stress that the specific technology being used does not matter so much, but rather STEM learning itself is the key foundation for student success. Cross-curricular learning is deeper learning. And deep learning engages the whole student (and the teacher!).

In a study of more than 150 countries, the Brookings Institution found that more than 70% of education systems prioritize six cognitive skills: literacy, numeracy, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. This highlights that what are considered to be “soft skills” are just as important in education as the “hard skills” However we often prioritize learning particular subjects over learning these “soft skills”. Interestingly, in this same report, 50% of students rank social-emotional skills in their top 5 priorities, while only 30% of teachers said the same. These types of skills are the skills that are easily transferrable as students grow and learn.

One of the biggest benefits we see to STEM learning is the growth of soft skills like collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. Using technology as a tool allows students to work through projects and problems they are passionate about and develop solutions that work for them. STEM education and use of technology can help not only to engage students when learning the “hard skills” but can also facilitate their learning of these incredibly important “soft-skills”

To sum it up, technology and STEM learning can be powerful tools in fostering the development of the whole child, no matter how or where they learn. Technology is changing fast, and if we want to inspire our students and prepare them for the future, we need to change the way we are teaching them in the classroom! Our belief is that more focus on real-world experiences, more focus on personalization, and harnessing the power of tech will give students the skills they need to succeed.