The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, otherwise known as STEM, are becoming increasingly important year on year. However, one of the major problems that these industries are facing is a lack of qualified younger students who will fulfil the roles of the current employees once they move on and get older. One source claims that only as little as 16% of college graduates graduate in a STEM industry field or subject whereas there will be an estimated 1.2 million job vacancies in these sections by 2018. These are shocking figures, especially when you consider that STEM companies and organisations continually create breakthrough innovations for our society. Unfortunately, when students start to struggle in STEM lessons, they become less interested in the subject which is why it’s so important for teachers and academic establishments to continue to positively highlight the benefits of STEM learning, to both parents and students. With this in mind, one study found that only a measly 17% of high school students were skilful in STEM subjects, a worrying figure to say the least. It’s not all bad news though, as educators in Australia are now seeing the importance of STEM. Teachers are using STEM to teach students about real-world issues close to home, such as the preservation of the Great Barrier Reef. Let’s look more closely at what STEM can do for students. It’s a Fun Education One of the most overlooked aspects of STEM education is that there are lots of students out there who get enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment from it. Focusing on STEM for these students helps them feel more involved with their education, and get more from it. However, this only happens when implemented by the teachers, especially during the younger educational years. “When it comes to STEM learning, no matter what field you’re exploring, learning about it is all about discovering new things, building things, collecting data or information and experiment with different things to see what the outcome is. As you can see, if taught in the right way, this could stimulate the minds of students no end” shares Max Pettit, a PhD engineering writer for Big Assignments. It’s Very Hands-On More commonly referred to in the field as ‘Experiential Learning’, STEM is very hands-on, and skill based. Hand in hand with the consideration above, STEM learning classes require students to do things with their hands to discover specific knowledge or to develop particular skills. When taught at a young age, these skills will stay with these students for life, providing them with hands-on skills they can use throughout their education and subsequent career. For example, good STEM education can include getting involved with saving local wildlife, or learning how to code. It Challenges Students To some students, STEM subjects come across as very challenging, and it can be very off-putting. However, students that are fit for STEM jobs and styles should be encouraged to push themselves and challenge their boundaries. “A lot of students these days look at the criteria for STEM learning and would much rather sit with their head in a textbook learning about history or learning a language. While this is still important, it’s much more important for the future that students are positively encouraged to try and push themselves when it comes to STEM subjects” says an educational writer for Australian Help, Gordon Taylor. Giving students challenges sets them up for life, as they’ll learn how to think their way around a problem and try out solutions. These skills will work out well for them once they’re in the workforce and will have to do this for themselves. Students Can Play and Learn Learning and playing don’t usually come together hand in hand, but when it comes to STEM learning, some exceptions can be made. For example, there are plenty of resources online where students can play math games to learn new mathematical concepts, and it can be as entertaining as it is educational. Online resources, such as Essay Roo, are home to a wealth of professional writers that can create custom work content, on any subject, not just maths, for students to learn and play. It’s all about getting teachers proactive in seeking out this material. Play and learn also happens in the classroom itself. With younger students, this could be simply playing with water to see how it fills containers, or with older students, they could code and create their games. STEM Learning is Customisable If you consider a subject like history, either a student is going to understand the concepts, or they are not. Courses like that can be black and white. However, STEM learning is very different. STEM learning can be tailored to suit a child’s abilities and educational level. Of course, as mentioned above, the ideal STEM question will push students to the limit of their abilities, testing out their problem-solving skills, their critical thinking and their engagement in the subject. However, this can be customised to a student of any level, whether they are academically adept or not. This means that no matter what ability the child has, they can still exceed when it comes to STEM learning. For example, if you’re teaching a class about light and dark, you’ve got lots of options. You could bring in a play tent and drape it with sheets to create a dark space so that students can experiment with light inside. You can also take them outdoors on a sunny day to draw around their shadows, to show how light can’t travel through a solid object. You’re only limited by your imagination. As technology evolves and moves forward, it’s crucial to keep STEM learning in a positive frame of mind and connotation. Aspects of our society, such as computers, technology, critical systems, social media platforms and so and all based on STEM learning and without it, the world wouldn’t be where it is today.