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STEM Education - Preparing for the future

STEM Education

By Daniel Adkins Academic Director, Murdoch University Dubai

Dubai, May 15, 2016

STEM education at the K-12 level is clearly important for students who want a career in one of these fields because that foundational knowledge will be crucial to success in university.

One of the hottest topics in education is K-12 education in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. Many parents see STEM as the way to ensure that their child has a high-paying, future-proof career. While this is in-general true, it does not recognise that these careers are not for everyone. The story is told of John Lennon's teacher assigning the topic of "What do you want to be when you grow up", to which John simply wrote "When I grow up, I want to be happy". Upon seeing this, the teacher said "John, you didn't understand the assignment" and John replied, "You don't understand life".

STEM education at the K-12 level is clearly important for students who want a career in one of these fields because that foundational knowledge will be crucial to success in university. What about STEM education for students who are pursuing other careers? The most important aspect of STEM education is that it teaches students to follow a systematic and logical process for understanding and solving problems, while at the same time providing foundational knowledge about the sciences and technology. Regardless of what career students choose to pursue, they will absolutely benefit from having developed systematic problem solving skills as these skills are required in any but the most menial positions.

The knowledge of science and technology will also provide students with the background necessary to understand and work with the ever-changing technologies that they will encounter in any career. To ensure every student gains these benefits, K-12 schools must teach STEM in a conceptual and experiential way. Many adults suffered through science and mathematics classes that seemed to be nothing but memorisation of unrelated facts and practice on problems which had no real-world relevance.

STEM must be taught by teaching the scientific method and by focusing each lesson on the real-world application of this knowledge. Taught in this way, STEM classes become the most popular in the curriculum. Those who pursue STEM careers have prepared themselves well for the future. The future of humanity will be built on the hard sciences, computer software and all types of engineering. These jobs will go to the students who have mastered not just the facts but the systematic problem solving that is the core of STEM education.

How to involve more young girls into STEM?


Administrators and educators must strive to create environments in high school and college math and science programmes that are inviting to females.

Encouragement Without understanding the opportunities that are available to students of math and science, young women may think they have made a mistake when facing the challenges of completing a STEM major. The good news is that current programmes focused on increasing young girls' interest in those fields are tremendous.

Community Support

Companies and organisations that offer summer internships provide a chance to learn more about different possibilities in the STEM fields. Many firms offer job shadowing programmes or career days. Job shadowing allows those interested in a specific field to follow an individual already working in that field for a day or a given amount of time. This lets the observer see typical job duties and activities, and get a feel for what that job may entail.

(Source: Karen D, Purcell, edutopia.org)

Source: Khaleej Times