STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
As a parent, I am sure that most of you have heard the term STEM mentioned in a recent conversation with your teacher or another parent. The acronym STEM has actually been around since 2001 (yes 18 years!!) but awareness and usage has surged in recent years.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and the acronym was introduced in 2001 by scientific administrators at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). While none of these subjects or disciplines are new, the historical approach has been to teach these as separate disciplines. And, for the most part, educational institutions still teach these as 4 separate and discrete subjects.
The principle idea behind STEM is to teach these in an interdisciplinary and applied approach to address real-world problems. At Envision Robotics, we started out aiming to exceed what was being taught by other robotics programs and built our Learning Framework to address this challenge head on. The main components are as follows: STEM, Robotics & Coding, and 21st Century Skills.
Now, pinning down where exactly Canada ranks in STEM education is a bit of a challenge as some ranking show Canada towards the bottom as compared to industrialized nations while other show Canada near the top. Regardless of where Canada actually ranks, there is growing acknowledgement that STEM education and increasing the number of graduates in STEM related disciplines is core to a countries’ economic well-being and global competitiveness. I think we can all agree on that.
Closer to home, we have seen some recent movement by the Ontario Government to increase the number of STEM graduates by 25% over the next 5 years as a way to lure high-tech companies like Amazon and others.
On a more personal level, as our world becomes increasingly “digitized” and artificial intelligence and advanced technologies diffuse across every part of our lives, there will be a need for all of us, and especially our children, to embrace STEM-education in some form.
So, where and when do you start?
While educational institutions are making headway in promoting STEM in the classroom it will be a number of years before the regular curriculum is fully STEM-based. Waiting for the system to catch up is not a pragmatic approach over the long-term, especially at the rate of change in industry we are seeing recently.
The best approach is to seek out a STEM program in your neighbourhood. With the summer camp season gearing-up this is an opportune time to enroll your child in a reputable STEM camp program.
Here are 5 reasons to give a STEM camp a try this Summer!
- STEM Camps are fun!
- Let’s face it, it’s the summer and kids just want to be kids and have fun!
- While some kids and even parents might be a little skeptical at first if they will like it or if it will be fun, the reality is….STEM camps are a ton of fun!
- STEM camps typically mix-in hands-on, creative activities and challenges with some form of outdoor exercise breaking up the day
- Many, like my Studio, focus on robotics and coding and add in games and playtime at the local park, or a movie if the weather is poor that day
- From my experience – the notion that the kids won’t have fun is quickly squashed after the first 20-30 minutes into the first day
- Positive Association
- For most students, doing classwork or homework is a bit of a drag and from this comes a negative association
- Ask your child if they want to do their math or science homework and you get the “look”
- But, when you change the paradigm and introduce math or science concepts in a fun way you develop a positive association
- This positive association will pay dividends over time as kids come to see how STEM permeates our everyday lives and the hope is that they will be more open and better yet very keen to embrace STEM disciplines in higher-education and even careers
- Keep their minds Powered Up.
- While kids deserve a break over the summer this does not mean they need as break from learning, especially when these are the most formative years!
- Feeding the brain with new information and knowledge will keep them bright and engaged and prepared for the fall
- Develop problem solving and critical thinking skills
- I am a firm believer that problem solving and critical thinking skills rank among the most important if not the most important skills for lifelong success
- Most STEM programs involve activities that revolve around a challenge that requires a problem to be solved in some form or another
- Through this process, kids get to flex their intellectual muscles
- Make New Friends
- Kids are kids and are curious, friendly, and like to make new friendships
- Introducing your child into a STEM-camp will also introduce them to like-minded kids to build new bonds of friendship
- While some of these friendships might be fleeting, I see a lot of repeat students at my programs and camps and its so nice to see how these friendships quickly reignite
We just released our STEM Summer Camp program which will be even better than last years! We hope that you can join us this year but if you are unable due to logistics, we hope that you try a STEM camp in your local areas this summer!