Chances are that you’ve never seen the type of science projects and assignments your kids regularly need to tackle. It’s certainly a far cry from that ant farm or papier-mâché volcano you had such fun with.
Don’t worry. It’s not just you. Parents all over the world are having the same experiences. That’s because the STEM curriculum has changed a lot since most of us were in school, and there’s been a huge shift in the focus and method of teaching, and that has big benefits, in many ways.
Solving Problems… Together
Many of the lessons and tasks your child will be faced with in their STEM curriculum these days will be designed to be tackled by small groups, rather than individually.
This approach benefits kids not only by stimulating their problems solving skills, but also in teaching them the tools and art of collaborating with others, something we will all face throughout our lives and careers. That science class isn’t just teaching your child how to invent and innovate, it’s also teaching them how to work together, and compromise.
Honing Communication Skills
Working together to solve STEM based problems in a classroom setting forces kids to communicate ideas, listen to others, and use effective tools like lists and mind maps to generate ideas as a group. Not only does this expose them to a broader variety of thinking styles, but it also helps kids to develop communication skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
Nimble Development of Ideas
When you put kids in a situation where they need to solve a problem, give them tools and materials, and let them use their imagination and creativity to devise a solution, something special happens. First, they’ll share initial ideas, decide on a first concept, and build a prototype. Given enough time, and some input from educators, they’ll work together to hone and perfect the idea, make changes and adjustments, until they arrive at a solution that is similar to their initial idea, but better.
STEM curriculum teaches kids that just because their first idea wasn’t perfect, doesn’t mean it can’t be perfected, and that it’s okay to make changes along the way. This is the cornerstone of Lean development, which is the cornerstone of most tech development projects in the business world too!
Recognizing Differences… and Working Together Anyway
One of the most interesting things about the modern STEM curriculum is that it very often challenges kids to come up with new, creative ideas. In any group, chances are those ideas will be vastly different, just like the kids in the group, and that’s perfectly okay.
Working together on collaborative STEM projects helps children to develop social skills that allow them to work with diverse groups, and to take differences of opinion and negotiating middle ground in their stride.
So Much More Than Just STEM
STEM studies are vitally important to success in our modern world, but the curriculum your child will be exposed to will teach them so much more. These days, your child is just as likely to develop valuable people skills and design and project management tools as they are to master math or succeed in science.
It’s an exciting time to be involved in science and technology, and it’s great that schools and teachers are embracing the change!