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What is STEM Education Outreach & its Role in Education

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STEM curriculum uses an interdisciplinary and applied approach to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics to students. These disciplines are present in all walks of our lives and STEM learning instils problem-solving, critical-thinking, risk-taking and communication skills. These creative, confident, and resilient students become the next generation of innovators.

 

When does STEM learning start?

Schools are increasingly adopting STEM education from an early stage. Teachers at schools in Singapore teachers start teaching STEM concepts from the preschool stage. This approach helps spark interest in young children to learn concepts in a fun and interactive manner. The various activities and projects help inculcate an interest in these disciplines. Parents can also start on STEM learning by encouraging children to ask questions, experiment and explore their environment.

STEM education continues through primary and secondary school. The four disciplines are integrated into a model that focuses on applying knowledge practically in the real world.

What is STEM education outreach?

STEM outreach provides students and teachers with the opportunity to interact with scientists, engineers, and researchers. These experts with STEM skills share their knowledge with students through classroom visits, workshops, and other means. They make textbook studies come alive for students through experiments or hands-on demonstrations relating to real-world challenges. They also make students aware of various career paths open to them and become mentors for them.

How can organizations and individuals get involved?

There are various paths you can take if you want to participate in STEM education outreach.

Connect with a school – Schools and teachers are always looking for new ways to engage their students and welcome visits from industry professionals. You could also arrange for lab or plant visits for them. Such interactions stimulate children’s thinking skills and enhance schools’ existing STEM curriculum. Students develop positive attitudes to STEM topics and are exposed to various related careers.

Volunteer at science centres, planetariums, zoos, and museums – These institutions have lectures, workshops, seminars or science communication courses for students and teachers. They are usually looking for volunteers for these and the various public local science events and festivals.

Participate in education and career fairs in schools – These events make students aware of various STEM-related career paths open to them. You can talk to them about what it’s like to work as an engineer, researcher or scientist. You can also share internship opportunities for students at your organization.

Organize teacher workshops and seminars – Schools welcome training and refresher programmes for their STEM teachers, which offer them the opportunity to keep abreast of the latest developments and research in their subjects.

Support STEM-related special events in the community – Schools and students participate in various events like poster contests on Earth Day, Lego Leagues, Robotics competitions, science and engineering fairs, etc.

Network with others doing STEM outreach amongst your acquaintances – They can guide you on existing opportunities, and how you could participate.

Contact the local universities – Universities have career expos, panel discussions, science cafes, etc. and would welcome your participation. You can also share any internship opportunities in your organization with the students there.

Partner with professional bodies or non-profits – Professional societies like to share their research outcomes with the public to promote science. You can partner with one in your area of expertise.

Start on your own – You can make your own outreach efforts like PowerPoint talks at the local library, creating lesson plans for teachers that revolve around your research, write blogs or start a podcast.

There are a host of opportunities available for you to get involved in STEM education outreach. Choose the one that you feel excited about, to begin with and you can expand as you go.

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