STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) encompasses a vast array of subjects. STEM education focuses on improving how students comprehend and apply scientific concepts in their lives through project-based learning in the classroom. The projects and activities incorporate technology to emphasize the application of science and prepare students for future classes.The National Science Foundation maintains that students will need a strong foundation in STEM subjects in order to be successful in the information-driven age. As Camise McAdams, Director of STEM Curriculum, Discovery Education rightly said, “It is important that we approach STEM not just as a subject, but as a mindset”.
The growth of STEM education has picked up significantly over the last few years in India and here is why:
1. It Fosters Creativity and Innovation
In the traditional academic approach, pupils usually learn about technology and engineering-related concepts in higher grades or during their college years. STEM education however begins during the fundamental stages of education to inculcate a hands-on scientific approach from the very beginning to teach students skills that they can use in the real world. Along with teaching applications of technology, STEM education enables students to use their creativity and develop their critical thinking, motor and cognitive skills.
2. It Lays the Foundation for Future Careers
Predictions for future jobs in the light of the current fourth Industrial Revolution emphasise the need, not just for technical understanding, but for creative ingenuity and non-cognitive skills. According to the National Science Foundation, it is anticipated that 80% of the jobs generated in the following decade will need some form of math and science skills. Worldwide, we are presently in a phase where the number of STEM jobs are growing at a rapid pace and in fact are outrunning the number of STEM graduates. So, students with a firm foundation in STEM are likely to be the most in demand.
It’s common to associate a career in STEM with a lab coat but that’s not true! It’s an amazingly diverse field with some of the futuristic STEM jobs one can look forward to being-- robot system repair, technology tutor and trainer, drone technician, space exploration, data managers, 3D printing engineers, biotech engineers, science ethicists, AI trainer and technician, climate analyst, weather moderators and many more.
3. It’s being Boosted by the NEP
Now with the National Education Policy 2020 recognising the need for flexibility in choosing the subjects that a student wants to study, STEM education will certainly witness a massive boost.The policy also recognises that skills like coding, scientific temper and evidence-based thinking should be learned by all students in order for them to become innovative, adaptable, productive, and thereby successful human beings in today's rapidly-changing world. The focus on STEM by the NEP will certainly fuel its growth.
Online education which has become mainstream now due to COVID-19 disruption has definitely made many realize the importance of technology in learning. Furthermore, online learning has become more than just a stopgap measure for the current times and is expected to remain relevant post the pandemic as well. As online learning is being mainstreamed, STEM education is also quickly moving into the limelight and being regarded as imperative for holistic learning.
Learn more: National Education Policy, 2020