STEM is ever present in all parts of daily life in the modern world. And, STEM jobs are more in demand every day, expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. However, science education in the U.S. has a long way to go. It’s become a well-known fact that most high school students are woefully unprepared for careers in science, technology, engineering, art and math (otherwise known as STEM). Students in the United States regularly score low on math and science tests, lagging behind other developed nations.
This is despite the fact that STEM careers pay exceptionally well--college students who graduate with STEM degrees earn quite a bit more than their counterparts with degrees in other fields. This fact alone should leave no question about the importance of preparing students for careers in STEM.
To compete with global education leaders and produce STEM workers, American schools need to improve the way STEM education is approached. My vision for the future of STEM education is for the United States to take the reins of innovation and start competing globally. To do this, we have to rethink the way we teach the STEM subjects to K-12 students.
What should future STEM learning look like? Not an easy question to answer, is it? My thoughts: we must find new and innovative ways to engage students in hands-on and real-world learning activities, and we must do it fast.
The Future of STEM Education Looks Promising
Over the last decade, companies have been experimenting with innovative ways to engage students in meaningful STEM learning. Thankfully, several of these companies are getting it right. The perennial technology giant Sony is doing an amazing job of advancing STEM education by persuading students to start solving problems via science. Sony’s KOOV Educator Kit is an all-in-one coding, robotics and design kit that combines digital coding with physical building to teach the next generation of problem solvers and innovators.
Reflecting Sony’s commitment to both technology innovation and quality science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) education, KOOV is designed to help cultivate students’ collaboration and problem-solving skills, which have become critically important in 21st-century learning. KOOV was created to make STEAM learning tools accessible to all students. By using inclusive colors, a shareable design and the goal of building a foundation for future STEAM learning, KOOV serves as a ready-made, easy-to-use resource for teachers, students and parents.
Image courtesy of KOOV
Designed for children ages eight and up, the KOOV Educator Kit allows students to build on core concepts that they will learn over time and create increasingly complex robots as they go. Once a student masters the basic concepts and skills, they can use their imagination to create an infinite number of robotic combinations.
The KOOV Educator Kit includes the KOOV App, which features more than 50+ hours of easy-to-follow educational content via its Learning Course. The KOOV Learning Course offers a great starting point for students to begin learning key concepts in coding, building, and design. This educational course introduces the different electrical components that KOOV uses and provides students with an overview of how those parts work and how to use Scratch-based coding to control them.
The KOOV Educator Kit also comes with 20+ pre-designed, pre-coded “Robot Recipes” ranging from simple structures to complex animals and vehicles. These recipes enable students to start building right away and quickly develop the skills needed to create their original robots. The Robot Recipes showcase what can be done with KOOV, giving young learners the inspiration they need to move ahead and make their unique creations from scratch.
Image courtesy of KOOV
What I love about KOOV is that it is flexible enough for students to use for independent study or in a structured setting led by an educator. One KOOV Educator Kit can accommodate up to five students. The Educator Kit offers curriculum-aligned lesson plans, step-by-step teacher guides, and student progress reports. Also, KOOV provides class management features to give educators the tools to quickly implement KOOV-based learning into any classroom. The KOOV Educator Kit is a must-have for STEM educators everywhere. If I were still in the classroom, I would be using it.
The engagement of U.S. children in STEM education is imperative to fill an estimated 9 million jobs in the industry by 2022. Time can only tell how many STEM careers will be created in the years that follow. However, it’s up to everyone to ensure that American students are prepared to compete for those spots.
With the commitment of parents, teachers, and communities, we can offer a more inclusive and effective STEM education to children. While improving STEM education may seem like a lofty goal, products like the KOOV Educator Kit are up for the challenge. It’s now up to us to make the changes necessary to realize a vision of better STEM education for American students.
What programs or products do you want to see incorporated in your local schools? Are you a STEM teacher, working on the frontlines to improve education? We want to hear your opinions and ideas.
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.