It’s no secret that the future is driven by tech innovation. Both teachers and parents know how important it is for students to interact with cutting-edge technologies. But despite your best efforts, many schools struggle with the lack of resources to teach STEM in a way that is exciting for the kids. Even when students are excited about technology, many don’t see that there’s a learning opportunity and career relevance involved.
No matter what you teach, you can play a role in helping your students gain important STEM skills so that they can be a step ahead of their peers and increase their chances of future success. We teamed up with innovative STEM educators, Pixel Academy, to share five tips for STEM success!
1. Encourage students to learn by doing
When a child realizes that they have a skill doing something they like, the activity becomes an important part of their identity. So many already kids have this relationship with technology, as they use it to play and communicate with their friends. Turning tools and activities they already use – for example, Minecraft, or YouTube, or even Snapchat – into a future-relevant STEM skill learning experience unleashes a huge learning potential. Kids can create unique projects using familiar technologies and new STEM skills that they can own, identify with, and remember down the road.
2. Make it social
Since much of the technology is new to everyone, there’s no need to segregate by age, sex, or learning level. The best results can be achieved by breaking down the social barriers that kids and teens face in school and allow them to explore and develop their identities in an inclusive environment. For example, younger students can learn from and problem-solve alongside older children who, in turn, have the opportunity to develop confidence and leadership skills as role models.
Dissolving social divides helps kids and teens develop social skills and inspire each other as they discover STEM concepts. Students can work on individual projects alongside other kids with similar interests so they can support each other and share the problem-solving experience as they confront similar obstacles.
3. Reward your students as they progress
When someone finishes coding an epic 3D video game, they can play it and share it with their classmates in a big gaming party. When someone builds a 3D model they can preview in Snapchat, they can send it to their friends. Importantly, the rewards should be intrinsic and connected to learning — they’re creating things they can use now and remember down the road, too.
Be creative when setting up your reward system, and think big! You can use your ClassTag Benefits funds to buy a prize for a winner at the end of the year :).
4. Get parents involved
You can do your best in the classroom, but the key to success is getting the parents on board, too. The founders of ClassTag’s partner, Pixel Academy, believe that learning can mean so much more than what’s learned at school. “Lots of the software that Pixel Academy uses is free, including our software for video game development, mobile app coding, programming in Java, 3D modeling, and more. We give our students the tools to continue working at home because we know that STEM learning is so much more than just an experience within itself; it is the start of a life-long journey towards creating and working on the cutting edge.”
Here are some great sites to get started are:
5. Set up a STEM Makerspace
If you’re serious about supporting your students’ STEM adventure, creating a dedicated space at your school can be a true game-changer. Many teachers dream of having a dedicated STEM workspace in their school, but the set-up and management cost can seem overwhelming. If your school is lacking funding or expertise to run a dedicated STEM Makerspace, Pixel Academy can help. Pixel Academy can set up, equip and run a state-of-art Makerspace in your school, completely free of charge!
Pixel Academy can supply you with a dedicated, year-round Resident to help equip your space with cutting-edge technology, integrate STEM activities into your existing curriculum, and inspire your students to learn on their favorite platforms. Best of all, if they can use this space for programs such as after-school and summer, the partnership is completely free!
Learn more on their website or call Pixel Academy directly to get a free consultation: (866) 771-6837.