As companies and market experts forecast computer science and engineering skills as crucial to the future workforce, K–12 schools have been rapidly developing STEM programs in order to prepare their students to be the employees of tomorrow.
“[It’s] imperative that schools lead the way, not just in offering stronger STEM programming, but in advocating for it with the community and championing it with students — especially at the K–12 level, where they are first exposed to it,” Ryan Petersen writes for EdTech.
While the goal is the same, schools have found many different solutions to shouldering the responsibility of passing on STEM skills to their students.
At some schools, science, technology, engineering and math are being incorporated into the overall classroom curriculum in all grades, while others are creating courses designated for STEM learning. Makerspaces have also become a way to create easily accessible STEM learning opportunities.
Despite these differing approaches, education technology has been an essential tool to aid K–12 teachers in reaching their goals in STEM education.
Tech Tools Help Teach K–12 Students STEM
There is no end to the number of education technology tools available to K–12 teachers, which can make it harder to choose which tools are the best fit for students.
First and foremost, teachers should choose to invest in technology based on their specific classroom needs, which will vary from class to class.
However, there are certain tools that can benefit any STEM curriculum.
These fun yet functional resources are rapidly taking their place alongside Chromebooks, laptops and wireless routers in classrooms and computer labs:
- Teq: Before you get started in STEM, professional development is a must. Teq offers courses on 3D printing, Arduinos robotics and more, and tells you what you should consider before bringing this technology into the classroom.
- Computer-aided design software: There are a dozen kid-friendly CAD programs that allow budding engineers and architects to design 3D objects, from simple to sophisticated.
- 3D printer: Desktop additive manufacturing tools, such as those from MakerBot or XYZprinting, allow students to create the objects they designed in their CAD programs.
- Coding tools: Free resources such as MIT’s Scratch programming language, Code.org’s online tutorials and Tynker’s learning activities for beginning to advanced coders help students learn coding quickly.
- Robotics kits: Products like the Sony KOOV and HamiltonBuhl’s HB Invent! come with all the parts needed to build a small robot and then program it to perform tasks.
- Circuitry: Arduino boards and simple circuitry kits like littleBits introduce students to the fundamentals of electrical engineering.
For more on how K–12 schools are teaching STEM through hands-on technology, check out "District Tinker-Fests and Hackathons Rev Up Student Interest in STEM Education."