What's Your Goal?
When it comes to implementing new initiatives, one of the biggest challenges that schools, and even corporations, face is in getting people focused on a common goal.
This includes the challenges of having everyone understand what the new vision is, getting staff buy-in, providing adequate and effective training, creating a new culture to promote the vision, and developing metrics for success.
Although there seems to be consensus between schools that teaching “STEM” is a good thing, there doesn’t seem to be much agreement on the rest. Some of the common questions school leaders ask before launching a STEM program are:
What will STEM instruction look like? Will it emphasize more science and math, while making some connections to technology? Or will we teach programming to kids via robotics?
How will we know if our STEM initiative is working? Do we measure success by math and science test results? Or do we measure student growth in soft skills, e.g., “21st century skills”?
How should we kick off our STEM program? Should we let teachers gently dip their toes in the new curriculum for the first two years? Or should we plunge in this year, head-first?
If you are a school administrator who’s found Teaching Garage while searching for an elementary engineering curriculum, you might be looking for answers to any of these questions by first searching for what’s available. Wherever you are in your search, we encourage educators to begin with a clear discussion on why your school is looking to implement a new STEM program before figuring out how.
Here is what Teaching Garage believes about STEM education, particularly at the elementary level:
STEM gives students an opportunity to understand our tech and innovation-driven world via the maths and sciences
STEM programs present opportunities for early career exposure - beyond software engineering
Engineering education teaches kids to question the way things currently are, and imagine innovative alternatives
STEM education can help students hone their 21st century skills (e.g., the Four C’s), which will be necessary to thrive in the future economy
STEM has the potential to transform learning so that it’s more interdisciplinary, innovation-centered, and “failure”-embracing. And this cannot necessarily be measured by test scores.