STEM in our New Norm
The current education scenario in which we all find ourselves is unprecedented and filled with questions and uncertainty. As I navigate these times as an educator, parent, and citizen, I am overwhelmed by the support and efforts being made in attempting to provide a sense of normalcy for our students. This being said, this is not a normal world our children and students are experiencing. While those of us in the field of education view our subjects and lessons as a priority, families of our students are facing days and weeks and months without normal income. Those students who face toxic home lives are now exposed to this without the usual break of a school day. Some students are faced with the stress of seeing their loved ones leaving for health care jobs which could expose them to the very virus which has caused this disruption. As we adapt our ways of delivering content, please don’t fail to remember the potential chaos in which your lessons may be received.
I have hesitated to provide posts during much of this time period. Part of this comes from the fact I now teach subjects outside the core 4. While I understand the focus on English, Math, Science, and History, I can’t help but see the significant role STEM can play during this time. Some of the skills vital to STEM education are skills which could benefit all of us as we face these upcoming months. STEM skills such as observation, communication, analysis, collaboration, and critical thinking are the same life skills utilized by our most successful problem solvers. With all of this in mind, I have decided to provide periodic information, activities and challenges in the coming weeks for students and families to attempt while in this new norm. These will be based on skills I feel we all need in order to endure some of life’s big challenges. Let’s face it, what we are living through right now shows us the importance of being able to identify and solve these very scenarios.
I am going to start with an Everyday STEM challenge. I like these because they allow us to look at our current environment from an angle in which we may have never viewed it. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are all around us. Most of the time we simply overlook it or don’t have time to observe and analyze it. Well, time is something of which we may now have an abundance. Let’s take advantage of it! I tell my students often during the course of a year that form is related to function. This means objects and organisms look the way they do because they must perform a specific job. Look around your house and/or yard and choose 5 common objects or organisms. Use your observation and critical thinking skills to determine some very important words. These words are “What”, “Why” and “How”. What does the object look like? Why does it look like that” How does its form help it achieve its function? I’ll give you an easy one to start with. Look at a coffee cup. Describe its form. Why is it shaped the way it is? Why does it have a handle? What is it open on top? Why is it flat on bottom? Why is it made of the materials it is? How do all of these forms help it achieve its function? You may find a direct relationship between forms and function. You may also find that the form of some objects has a different purpose such as aesthetics. Enjoy this time you have to use your observation skills to become more familiar and knowledgeable about the STEM in the world around you.