The STEM Revolution

I have always been an opinionated person. Since I was little I would always have an opinion on everything. However I have never shared my opinions – at least not in a written form – until today.

So let’s start with the term that is so ubiquitous now a day. STEM is being used everywhere and by everybody: students, teachers, parents, summer camps, media, administrators, the YMCA, even the Florida Governor Rick Scott is talking about STEM. But what is STEM, what does it really mean?  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

You can search in Wikipedia the terms, so I won’t bother you with that. The important part is to understand what those terms mean. Individually STEM means:

Science: the knowledge we have acquired or want to acquire,

Technology: the tools that apply the knowledge we have or that helps us acquire even more knowledge,

Engineering: the application of that technology to solve problems,

Math: is the tool that enables science, technology, and engineering to fulfill their individual missions.

Some people are now debating whether the term should be STEM, STEAM (includes ARTS), STREAM (incorporates Reading), or STEMM (add Music to the mix). But to me that is missing the point.

The STEM revolution is less about the terms used in the acronym, and more about letting those terms interact with each other, create synergies, allowing students learn in a “Project Based Learning” environment. In the not so distant past, people learned professions through the apprenticeship model. And this model didn’t just teach the apprentice how to be a good “baker”, it also taught her/him how to manage the bakery, how to treat and retain customers, where to buy supplies, how to make money and pay their taxes. They learned how to run a bakery in its entirety, as a complete project – and they learned not by sitting around listening to endless lectures, but by actually being a part of the bakery.

Fast forward to our current era, and students are not allowed to learn in a systems environment anymore. They learn subjects in silos, listening and reading, with few opportunities of applying any of the concepts presented to them, and that makes the learning process boring and irrelevant to their lives.

So to me, STEM programs, such as one of our robotics classes in Davie, allow students to learn science, use technology and mathematics, and behave like true engineers solving the specific problem we have placed that day in front of them, just like the apprenticeship model did in the past. Sometimes they need to draw to express their concepts, or they do research and read about the subject, and yes, most of the time we listen to music while we are working, so we use STEM + Arts + Music + Reading + anything else we might need or want to complete the project.

Therefore I guess you could call Kahoolal a STEMM, STREAM, STEAM or just STEM Studio where we teach coding and robotics to students in Weston, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, well, pretty much all South Broward. But I think what you call it isn’t really that important. What is important is the learning experience that comes at a deep personal level, where our members transform into independent self-regulated learners that understand that they need to use many fields, not just one, in order to solve real-life problems.  That’s where the real revolution of STEM begins, and we are happy to be part of it.

Posted on: June 23, 2016, by : admin