Challenges in STEM education

Student motivation can be a huge problem for even the best of teachers. Most children struggle to understand the importance of science because they cannot see the connection between what they learn in the classroom and the happenings of the real world.

Students also have a perception of science subjects being either too difficult or too boring.

“If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years from now we’ll be in trouble. The things we teach our children are things from the past 200 years - it’s knowledge-based. And we cannot teach our kids to compete with machines, they are smarter." Mentioned Jack Ma (Former executive chairman of the Alibaba Group).

Science learning can be boring if it does not exemplify the effects of classroom theory in the real world. According to a study undertaken by the Institute of Engineering and Technology: “Most students see the curriculum as boring and irrelevant to life outside the educational institutions.” Studies show that “practical activities enable students to build a bridge between what they can see and handle and scientific ideas that account for their observations”.

Making these connections is challenging, so practical activities that make these links explicit are more likely to be successful. Practical project work also enables group discussions, teamwork, communication and peer-to-peer interaction, all of which are considered important 21st-century skills . A typical STEM lessons usually involves four basic steps:

  • Identify a real-world problem.

  • Ask questions to explore the problem (and potentially solve the problem).

  • Develop solutions.

  • Explore a hands-on activity.

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