Oct 26, 2022

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What is STEM Education?
What is STEM Education?
The world is ever-changing. This fact, ironically, is unchanging.   Our world constantly invents and reinvents itself, and one’s reluctance to keep up with an increasingly complex world is an injurious tendency. The only way to not be left behind is to have an understanding of how today’s world works and how it would work in the future.   To ensure that our youth is able to keep pace with the constant changes, a good grasp of the disciplines that drive progress is important. Those disciplines are: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics — often abbreviated as STEM. The way we can instil and develop their interest in these areas is also crucial because,   How can one excel at anything they’re indifferent toward?   Now, let’s look into what STEM education is, how it can be taught effectively, and why they are important!   STEM Education. What Is It? Many parents seem to have got bitten by the “STEM” bug now that a lot of them are either talking about it, seriously considering it, or have already enrolled their children in schools that offer the program. Really though,   What is STEM education? How does it differ from the regular, conventional way of teaching the subjects? Why are more and more parents making STEM a priority in their children’s education?   STEM education is a program that teaches students in the aforementioned disciplines in a holistic, practical manner. In other words, it is an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on hands-on learning and critical problem-solving skills.   STEM education is often a collaborative endeavour between school teachers and parents/guardians. After all, children are only going to spend so much time in school, so it is imperative that parents/guardians take on the role of education facilitators as well.   How Does STEM Education Differ from Regular Science & Math Class? Traditionally, the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are taught separately with little emphasis on how these four areas are interconnected. STEM education can be seen as the reformed version of the conventional teaching methodology where it integrates all four in a single academic program.    Again, STEM programs often put a heavier emphasis on developing the ability to find solutions for real-world problems so that the students are equipped with practical skills that are applicable to, well, real-life situations.    A lot of schools that offer STEM programs conduct their Science and Mathematics classes in a collaborative manner, with small projects that encourage critical thinking to solve problems.    Examples of STEM Projects  Some examples of STEM-oriented projects:   - Paper Aeroplane (Designing, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Creativity)   A properly designed and made paper aeroplane is going to fall much slower to the ground than a balled-up piece of paper. Students are encouraged to test the laws of aerodynamics by designing paper aeroplanes that are able to travel the furthest and fall the slowest. This project integrates Science (Physics) and Engineering.   - Static Electricity with Plastic Comb (Critical Thinking, Problem Solving)   This experiment tests the occurrence of static electricity using two daily items such as a plastic comb and a piece of paper. The other thing that you’d need is a head full of hair. A plastic comb is not going to draw torn bits of paper to itself unless an action that generates static electricity is done to it. To draw the paper bits in a “magnetic” fashion, one would need to comb one’s hair repeatedly and bring the comb close to the paper bits. Now watch the comb “attract” the paper bits in amazement.   - LegoⓇ Bricks Coding (Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Creativity)   This project teaches students the principles of coding — an important computer programming that is very in demand now that is only going to grow in popularity. To participate in the project, teachers would need to design a LegoⓇ maze with an “entrance” and an “exit”, print out some coding commands, and prepare tokens (small figurines) as points of reference. Students are encouraged to collaborate to give directional commands to get the tokens to “exit” the maze. Plenty of fun and very engaging.   There are countless fun-filled STEM activities that would engage students and at the same time, instil interests in the discipline and further develop their passion. Most of these STEM projects can also be done in the comfort of your home. For more ideas on STEM-oriented activities, you can visit the links here and here.   How To Get Students To Commit to STEM Education All children at their cores are pure, inquisitive beings. They are naturally curious and are eager to explore things that are unknown to them, so it really falls on responsible adults to nurture, hone, and direct them to things that would satisfy their unique needs.    A few ways to get them excited for STEM:   Be Thoroughly Prepared You can’t possibly conduct an effective learning session as an unprepared facilitator. The quality of knowledge of whatever you are about to impart to your children wholly depends on your own understanding of the subject.    Set aside time and energy to research the experiments and projects in which you are about to involve your children, and understand how any or more of the four disciplines of STEM is a part of said projects.   After all, a good student is only as good as their teachers, and good teachers are the ones who come prepared.    Make Learning Exciting Learning can only be effective when it is fun and relatable. If it does not strike a chord, is boring, or is too serious that it quickly exhausts your children’s mental bandwidth, then you will lose their engagement. A disengaged learner is a lost one.    Practical projects are inherently exciting because of their engaging nature and they fuel fun through creativity. Aside from the activity examples previously provided, facilitators need to understand each learner’s unique inclination and curate the appropriate curriculum/program that would best serve their disposition.   For example, a child who has shown an aptitude for discovery and puzzles may be inclined to enjoy activities such as LegoⓇ Bricks Coding whereas those who have shown a strong interest in aeroplanes in the sky may be better served with the paper aeroplane experiment.   Give Examples of Successful People in STEM (Fictional or Real) For the learners to be excited about something, you may want to provide examples of individuals that are successful in the fields that they’re about to learn.   These individuals can be fictional or real, and whom to introduce to your children largely depends on their existing knowledge of the figures or the aspects of the disciplines that you are about to impart.   Children who are into superheroes may respond very well if you began the inception to learning by talking about STEM-oriented superheroes such as the tech-savvy Tony Stark from Marvel’s Ironman and gadget reliant Bruce Wayne from Batman from DC.   Involve Their Parents/Guardians As previously mentioned, students are only going to spend a fraction of their productive time in academic institutions. Most of their successes rest on the time that they would spend outside of school – at home.    A research done by National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education has shown that regardless of a student’s socio-economic background, the ones with hands-on parents/guardians tend to perform better in terms of test scores, discipline, behaviour, and exhibit desirable social behaviour.    To ensure an optimal and holistic learning experience, parents and teachers must collaborate in figuring out each child’s unique needs and interests, and coming up with tailored solutions that would best serve them. The activity examples given in the previous section can easily be done at home under parental supervision.   Facilitators may also want to use positive reinforcement, give good comments, ask open-ended questions, and be animated in their teaching. There are many methods that are considered teaching best practices. Click on this link to understand what is considered the most effective way to teach.   The most important thing to note when it comes to teaching your students is to have a firm grasp on the learning structure, and to be patient and kind.   Why STEM education? The common benefits of STEM Education are: - Critical Thinking - Problem Solving - Creativity - Collaboration - Effective Communication Those benefits also happen to be the kind of qualities that many industries look for in a professional.    The Demand for STEM Professionals The United States is currently experiencing a shortage of professionals to fill their STEM-related job vacancies as reported here and here. By 2025, the US will need to fill about 3.5 million jobs, and STEM-savvy professionals will make an overwhelmingly huge chunk of that demand.   Globally, the issue isn’t that much better. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that by 2030, there will be a worrying lack of global professionals to fill the 85 million tech-related job vacancies, based on the data provided by Korn Ferry management consulting firm. That figure suggests that STEM-related industries are going to grow at an exponential rate and the schools are not producing enough STEM talents to appropriately satisfy the demand.   STEM-related professions also pay relatively higher than their non-STEM counterparts as indicated here. In many cases, the salary for STEM professions can be as much as twice the salary of jobs in other industries.   STEM is Good for Other Industries and Disciplines A person educated in STEM does not always have to work for STEM-related industries or go to specific countries to make full use of their skills.   Being a great problem solver, creative thinker, and effective communicator are qualities that are attractive in any field of work, no matter which industry. For instance, there is a demand in the legal industry for STEM graduates and professionals with STEM-related qualities.   Some examples of individuals trained in STEM that work for non-STEM industries:   -  Angela Merkel, the former chancellor of Germany, is a physics and chemistry major who got into politics and went on to lead the country’s government.    - Mayim Bialik, a Doctor of Neuroscience who chose to work in the entertainment industry and made it big with the show The Big Bang Theory – she was hired partly due to her expertise in neuroscience to play a neuroscientist in the show where she got to help the showrunners write for her character. Mayim was paid $425,000 per episode for her work in the show.   There are limitless opportunities for those who are trained in the STEM disciplines. Getting your children educated early in STEM is only going to serve them well in the future when they finally enter their productive, working age.   Who Can Do STEM? Everyone. Everyone can do and excel in STEM.    Often parents and educators espouse the notion that learners that seem to have more dominant “left brains” are best suited for STEM majors and subsequently careers, whereas “right-brained” students are steered towards other pursuits.   The left-brain/right-brain principle is a myth and has been debunked by notable scientific scholars. A group of neuroscience experts in Utah, US, did a study that involved putting 1,000 people on brain scans while they were performing activities such as lying flat and reading. The result of the brain scans reading did not produce evidence of any hemispherical dominance when doing those tasks.   The following TED-Talk would serve as a very good explanation of why any child of any aptitude and disposition can and should be trained in STEM disciplines.   Getting to the Roots of STEM Education | Melissa & Lavanya Jawaharlal | TEDxCPP   When To Start STEM Education?   Opinions vary as to when to start introducing aspects of STEM discipline to a child, but one suggests that toddlers as young as two-year-old.   The first spurt in a child’s brain development happens at around two years of age and slows down and concludes when they reach the age of seven (eight in some cases). During this critical period, one could say that a child’s brain is like a sponge – ready to soak up any information, stimulus, and knowledge that their environment is going to give them.    STEM education can be employed in many different forms depending on how old a learner is and at which stage of learning development they are. For examples of age-appropriate STEM games and educational materials, visit this link.   What if your children are over the age of the “critical period”?    Worry not, as human brains continue to develop up to the age of 25. Nothing is too late, but the younger you start endearing your loved ones with STEM disciplines, the better off they will be.   Here at Timedoor, we provide coding classes (very STEM-y!) that are appropriate for children 8 and up with small class sizes so that each child will receive the optimal attention and focus from our facilitators.    For more information about Timedoor Coding Academy, please visit this link. We can’t wait to have your children join our fun-filled classes that will surely inculcate early interest in coding and possibly, other STEM-related disciplines.   Remember, STEM principles translate well into other disciplines so you could expect the benefits of your children’s extracurricular coding classes with Timedoor Coding Academy to reflect on their academic performance.
How to Help Your Kids Get Out of Their Study Slump
How to Help Your Kids Get Out of Their Study Slump
As parents, do you often struggle with keeping your children interested in learning? It is no surprise since kids are bombarded with distractions in the form of games, social media apps, and many other interruptions that might keep them away from studying.   Their loss of interest in studying can be attributed to many things, including high pressure from parents, monotonous study routines, difficulty in keeping up with peers, excessive distractions, and feeling of hopelessness in achieving academic success.   Nobody likes the feeling of being left behind in the classroom, especially when kids are often compared to their classmates by their own parents or even teachers. As upsetting as this may sound, this is quite a common recurrence in schools which results in heightened insecurity from pupils of all ages.   Of course, depriving your children of all fun things is not the solution as it will increase resentment towards studying in general, but how can you set boundaries with them and ensure academic success for your kids' future?    In this article, we’ll look into the why and the how of tackling your children’s study slump in order to get them motivated for the school year.   Key Things to Identify   Before lending a helping hand to your loved ones, it is imperative to know the reasoning behind their lack of engagement and strategize smartly to tackle the issue. As mentioned previously, your children’s loss of interest in learning can be due to a number of reasons, and as parents it is important to start recognizing these signs in order to apply the logical solutions and get those learning hats on.     Dull Learning Routine   When it comes to studying, oftentimes the routine is as follows: attend classes, have one-on-one sessions with tutors, spend hours on homework, and repeat. This cycle of rinse and repeat can quickly become monotonous to children, not to mention the additional pressure for academic achievement and competition with peers that can lead to eventual burnout.    Children are naturally curious beings filled with endless questions, so we know the curiosity is there. It’s just a matter of how we can foster and reignite their desire to learn. Seriously, ask how many times parents get asked starting with the word “why” in a day - the answer is, plenty.   Another way to see this from a different perspective is to think about how we are as adults and how boring repetitive work routines can become.    Emails, calls, meetings, and then back to the cubicle the next day. (If you need a visual reference, take a look at the scene from SpongeBob where Squidward repeats the same regime everyday as his smile fades away with each frame, realizing he’s lost the initial spark he had). While some may enjoy this stability, this cycle frequently leads to lack of interest resulting in burnout. This same principle applies to children as it does to adults.    Pressure for Academic Success   It is safe to say that some people enjoy competition, and some simply do not. However, most can agree that no one likes to be put in a position of constant pressure to the point you start comparing yourself to others.    As parents, it is natural to want your kids to strive for academic success, however, be wary of setting unachievable standards and constantly comparing your loved ones to their classmates. While many parents opt for this method of disciplining their kids, it would often backfire and cause low performance in the classroom.   When it comes to setting goals for your kids, always bear in mind that everyone moves at a different speed. And that is not a bad thing!    While some kids may take two lessons to master basic fractions, some others may require longer time than that, and that is okay as everyone absorbs information at different rates. By identifying their strengths and weaknesses, you can also tailor special learning methods that work according to their needs based on this information.   Lack of Purpose   As adults, when completing certain tasks, do you often ask yourself the question “why do I even bother with this?” Meaning, our decision making is usually based on whether we deem that activity to be useful or beneficial for us.   Similarly, kids also operate in the same way where they would put activities that they find useless at the lowest priority. Of course, as adults we are aware of the importance of studying and academic success as it will greatly contribute to our future career path, therefore it is important to inform children how education greatly contributes to our lives.   So you might think, how can I get them to understand the importance of reaching high scores? Well, put it in a way that is simple enough for them to understand. Instead of urging them to study so they can get straight A’s, encourage them to see the value in each learning lesson.   Gently explain to them how mathematics can be used in helping them make real life decisions when trying to choose the best deal at the grocery store. Or how biology can be used in order for your children to understand their body more and how to take care of it. By emphasizing the application of these lessons in real-life scenarios, your kids will soon realize that there is in fact more to studying than just getting good grades.   What Can You Do Instead?   Now that we have some idea of the “why,” let's get to the “how”’ in increasing your children’s interest in learning. Children are active beings, and more times than not they would probably prefer to do learning activities than simply sitting on a desk and listening to lessons.  This would be a great bonding activity for parents to explore with kids and lets you know what sparks their interest! Here are some fun learning activities you can implement:   Educational Games   Educational games are perfect for when traditional methods with paper and pencil are simply not enough to keep the little ones engaged. In addition, they are also a great tool when trying to teach children about logic, critical thinking, and many other soft and hard skills.   A popular method that has been implemented in many classrooms would be Kahoot quizzes. By using this platform, kids are able to join through their gadgets and there is no pressure on being shamed if you get an answer wrong as students are able to join using fun nicknames that do not give away their identity thus creating a safe space for making mistakes.   In addition, there are a wide selection of applications and websites that educate people on the subject of mathematics, science, history, health, geography and many others. Usually, the game instructs the player to solve a mathematical equation or answer a history trivia in order to proceed to the next round or level up. This is a great method to keep kids engaged as they are just excited to play games, not realizing that along the way they are picking up useful skills.   Outdoor Learning   Sitting in a room for hours while trying to absorb new information can be a downer for most people, especially kids. By doing so, this can really weigh down on a child’s excitement to learn and honestly can we blame them?   Many schools nowadays incorporate outside learning where teachers and students go over learning materials in an outdoor setting. By implementing a slight change in scenery, students feel more refreshed and less slumped in digesting new learning materials. Try doing the same with your kids and take your tutoring sessions with your kids in the backyard or a public park to boost your kids’ learning spirit.   A great example would be heading outside to teach your kids about different types of rocks and soil for a brief geology lesson. If you’re lucky enough to live near the ocean with rich marine biodiversity, take the time to take your science lessons outdoors and look out for different types of sea life such as anemones, school of fishes, seashells, and more.    Field Trips   Similar to the previous point, scheduling field trips with your kids can boost learning interest as it takes the learning outside of the classroom, which can eliminate boredom.    Perfect for history lessons, going on a museum trip can spark interest in learning about past events, important monuments, artifacts, and paintings. This is highly beneficial especially in children who have shown interest in the fields of art, literature, and history. While it is not ideal to implement field trips everyday for children, it is important to remember to treat them once in a while to get them out of that study slump.    Think of it as adults, we oftentimes get so tired of the same four walls of the cubicle and repetitive routine. A business trip or an insightful work conference for bettering our knowledge can be a nice treat in the midst of a monotonous work regime. The same applies for children, and can help rekindle their learning spark.     Bite-Sized Learning Material   Lastly, learning can be an intimidating process, especially when kids see the amount of materials that they have to master within the span of one semester. Minimize their anxiety by breaking up learning materials into several pieces that will be easier to manage by them.    For example, when it comes to learning mathematics, instead of stressing on the entire counting system, take each learning lesson to really focus on comprehending each subject into bite-sized pieces. Make sure to incorporate fun games related to addition such as puzzles, treasure hunts, and other varieties to avoid boredom and motivation loss. Remember as mentioned earlier, kids are simply excited to play games, that they don’t even realize they’re gaining knowledge in the process.   Use all of these tools strategically by keeping them organized in order to keep your children engaged and focused on the material at hand.   Things to Keep in Mind   Now that you have all of these resources at your disposal, make sure to utilize them to boost learning efficiency and avoid motivation loss during the learning process. As parents, getting your children to sit down and study can be a hard task, however, by implementing a variety of fun activities and stimulating tasks, this can help them stay on track and reduce lack of interest in learning.    In addition, it is also important to recognize that there is also a good amount of trial and error that comes with finding the right study routine for your little ones. Therefore, it is important to be patient not only with your children, but also with yourself as you navigate through this journey. After all, finding a study plan that works is a learning moment within itself.    Lastly, value the time in taking a break from studying and exploring other interests that your children might have. Sometimes, all it takes is a little breather from the books to rejuvenate your kids and prevent fatigue from studying.    As parents, this would be a great opportunity to explore their interests outside of the classroom whether it be sports, music, cooking, and many more. Here at Timedoor Academy, we offer a variety of lessons surrounding coding that can be a fun learning addition for your kids. Our curriculum allows students to learn the fundamentals of computer science and accomplish fun projects such as creating their own games, websites, and mobile applications.   To get started, head over to this page and our teachers will be more than happy to get you and your little ones started on their coding journey.
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