Future STEMist Join Forces

Future STEMist Join Forces

Vasiliki Psaridou (Minority School of Dokos, Greece) and Marina Molla (9th Primary School of Komotini, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4576-8.ch014
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The aim of this educational school project was to inspire young children around STEMs and for STEM professions to empower them to cope with stereotypes in this field and discrimination in the professional field to work together in favour of integration and diversity (in and outside the school). That is why the effort to build a ramp for disabled people was chosen as a single topic. This project is a collaborative project involving two minority primary schools and a Turkish high school. The topic was covered by a cross-curricular approach to STEM. STEM professionals visited one of the schools, where they presented their profession and received questions from students via teleconference. A workshop of engineering followed. Students used traditional and modern engineering tools to make measurements. The data they collected from their measurements were processed in a mathematics lab, where they designed a ramp for the school.
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Literature Review

The acronym STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) was created in the 90s by the National Science Foundation and is used as a generic title for any action, policy, program, or practice that comprises one or more STEM fields (Bybee, 2010). And while two decades have passed since the introduction of the acronym, its definition remains a source of ambiguity for professionals, especially in the field of education (Sanders, 2009). The definitions range from simple references to the four separate branches of the acronym to part-time or all-encompassing educational methodology to a complete cross-curricular approach to STEM education (Scientix Report, 2018).

The value of the interdisciplinary approach to STEM education is addressed in 29 reports (Rosicka, 2016). Students often fail to see how their subject of studies applies to their everyday lives and how it connects to STEM career options because math and science subjects are disconnected from other subject matter and the real world, (AAAS, 2001). Even though these students rely on science and technology in their everyday lives by using smartphones, computers, televisions, medicines and everyday products, they don’t understand the underlying connections to math and science (NRC, 2012).

So while it is necessary to learn skills from individual STEM fields of knowledge, research demonstrates the benefits of the STEM thematic approach, which includes improved problem solving skills, increased motivation and improved results in mathematics and science (Rosicka, 2016; Blackley & Howell, 2015; Becker & Park, 2011; English & King, 2015). Helping students see the connections between math and science and future career opportunities is a critical aim of the STEM pipeline (De Coito, 2014). A thematic approach helps students understand not only what they are learning, but also why and how they can apply what they learn (Rosicka, 2016; Everett, Imbrie & Morgan, 2000; Hanover Research, 2012).

In addition, it is generally accepted that the underrepresentation of STEMs in the education system, combined with a “negative image”, is due to the difficulty of engaging curious young minds in the first grades, especially in elementary school. Inadequate preparation for STEM in the first grades ultimately plays a role in secondary education options and ultimately in higher education and vocational choices (De Coito, 2014). Motivating interest in math and science requires improved teaching strategies in the classroom and opportunities within and outside the classroom to demonstrate linkages between math and science, real-world applications, and future careers (Singh, Granville, & Dika, 2002; Tella, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Preservice Teachers: Students enrolled in an initial educator preparation program.

Computational Thinking: Is a set of problem-solving methods that involve expressing problems and their solutions in ways that a computer could execute.

Early Childhood Education: Is a broad term used to describe any type of educational program that serves children in their preschool years, before they are old enough to enter kindergarten.

Educational Robotics: Is an interdisciplinary learning environment based on the use of robots and electronic components to enhance the development of skills and competencies in students.

Preschool Education: Is education that focuses on educating children from the ages of infancy until six years old.

Programming: Lines of code that are written in a certain language that demands a logic of reasoning from the developers.

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