- Research from the Museum of Science in Boston's Engineering is Elementary Founder Christine Cunningham shows students are more likely to engage in STEM topics like engineering if they're provided with practical, real-world exercises, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- Educator Brandon Lewis is also among proponents of this approach, noting that embracing it gives students a taste of what it's like to work in various fields.
- In Atlantic City, NJ, students from across the state recently participated in the first STEAM Tank challenge, in which they pitched projects to solve real-world problems.
We can all probably remember the student in a high-school math class who flippantly remarked that they didn't know why they needed to know how to do, say, pre-calculus because they didn't plan on becoming a rocket scientist. While that sentiment can be disappointing to educators — and while it might even be chuckled at in retrospect — it does point to a genuine issue of the career relevance of many subjects not being explicitly detailed for students. Understanding how exactly a certain skillset could work for a variety of jobs can give students a better idea of the bigger picture, getting them more interested in what they're focusing on today in preparation for tomorrow.
With a greater push toward the inclusion of more career-and-technical education options in high school, giving students a wider variety of practical, hands-on projects earlier on can help prepare them to make those choices later. While it's nice to encourage everyone that college is possible, the truth is that the pursuit of a traditional four-year higher education isn't going to be for everyone, and many employment options that previously existed for high school graduates are in quickly changing industries being disrupted by automation and new alternatives. Setting students up for success after graduation, no matter how that success is defined, should include an exploration of all possible avenues to building the skills that lead to better careers.