There’s no better time than now for primary and secondary STEM education.
STEM-based career opportunities continue to grow, which means our young learners only benefit from quality time spent on STEM projects in school.
So if this is true, then why isn’t your child necessarily learning as much as he or she can about robotics, coding, and game design? And what can you do about it?
The Challenges of STEM Education in the United States
Type something akin to “education problems United States” into your Google bar and it’s sure to return a myriad of troubling results. These problems affect different age groups all the same; meaning, our biggest issue might be that these challenges are pervasive. Here’s what potential STEM curriculum is up against:
1. Lack of Resources
First and foremost is a profound lack of resources across school districts. It’s not that schools don’t want to offer STEM courses and STEM activities, it’s that the budget for additional content does not exist.
The sad truth is that many schools can barely afford to pay their teachers, let alone host the materials needed to adequately support the design of video games, scientific inquiry behind robotics creation, or high quality programming for young scientists to learn how to code.
If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything related to schools and technology access, it’s that a lot of schools still don’t have it. The “1:1 learning model” is a long-term goal, not a short-term solution.
And if a school is trying to allow its students to dig deeper into STEM subjects or explore STEM fields, then it must have the resources to do so.
2. Limited Availability
When former President Barack Obama was entering his second term, he encouraged Americans during a State of the Union address to ““Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”
Part of the future success that President Obama asked us to imagine can come from STEM education. After all, it’s all about creative projects and problem-solving skills. Primary and secondary STEM instructional efforts serve as the building blocks for future STEM professionals.
Still, though, there’s a limited offering of STEM courses throughout the country, even from schools who might be capable of hosting more than a weekly STEM club that explores simple concepts or offers a quick hands-on project for students.
And the limitations don’t stop with the courses themselves. Part of the reason there’s such a limited offering of courses is because there’s a similarly limited offering of teachers who can teach these concepts. Not to mention, our students still seem to need the basic concepts of STEM education that are already covered in core subjects. Research released in 2015 by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranked the United States 38th out of 71 countries in math skills and 24th in science.
3. Uncompromising Mindsets
A final (and dangerous) challenge that STEM education faces revolves around uncompromising mindsets of education leaders. To some degree, this is understandable. Why delve into the engineering design process if students are struggling with essential math principles? Or why pour the few resources you have into creating an engineering design challenge while school-wide attendance is an issue?
Unfortunately, though, the myriad of challenges that schools face on an individual level are perpetuated from the top-down; meaning, policy makers often don’t give schools a chance to be successful because they focus on all of the wrong things. We’ve seen this in action for years with our country’s relentless dependency upon SAT/ACT scores. From the first day in kindergarten six-year-old to the older kids walking the halls of a public high school, we demand test scores as an ubiquitous measure of success.
Schools swallow the extra cost that comes with test prep materials simply because it will make them look better on paper, raise the school’s grade, and what? Bring more money through the doors. Money that’s typically not spent on creating different clubs or funding the unique list of science experiments that the science department brought up in last week’s faculty meeting. Instead, it’s infused back into programs and materials that can make the school’s grade even better. An endless cycle.
COVID-19 has terrorized the world for the past 8 months; however, one COVID-related modification in the U.S. that might spark future positive change is that many universities have said they won’t be requiring SAT or ACT scores for 2021 admission. Given the risk that attending a testing site poses, this makes sense. Wouldn’t it be nice if it stayed this way? If this over-reliance on test scores was thrown out in favor of a more holistic approach to evaluating a candidate (ie: what many college and university admissions offices already like to say they do)?
Change doesn’t start with the kids. It begins with the adults.
A Powerful Solution to STEM Education Dilemmas
With many schools facing internal challenges of their own that prevent appropriate STEM education from taking place, education technology companies have taken the wheel and created STEM-related subscription boxes good for various age ranges and skill levels. Ready to get your three-year-old started on exploring basic STEM skills? It’s possible with a STEM subscription box or a STEM kit.
Truthfully, this couldn’t have come at a better time. Education has been forced to shift to an online format as we continue to battle the coronavirus, so what better way to keep students engaged than with a monthly STEM subscription box? Students are bound to face screen time overload with their quasi-virtual reality school environment this year, which makes the case even stronger for STEM boxes that can afford off-screen, hands-on projects for younger and older kids alike.
Let Us Help
At Thimble, we believe in empowering the next generation of engineers through science subscription boxes, STEM toys, and online classes, all geared toward teaching students the science behind how things work and allowing them to make new discoveries of their own.
We think the coolest part of this experience is the endless opportunities for learning that Thimble provides. Order today and receive your first box this month (and a new box every three months). In this kit is a project for your child to complete. Your child also gains access to weekly live classes and self-paced lessons, taught by accredited instructors who know their robotics and coding and video game design like a first language. Each week also features a live build-along where your child can work with a live instructor and small group of kids to put together the project sent in our STEM kit.
Learning should always be fun, and Thimble’s happy to provide this experience.
Ready to get started? Check out our subscription tiers today!