STEM education develops children’s skill sets to make them ‘future-proof’ in employment market – reported by SCMP

11 January 2018
In late 2017, SCMP has two articles published in related to STEM education in Hong Kong. It’s no doubt that STEM is the trend for our future and it needs to start introduce from elementary school. But reports show that majority of Hong Kong teachers are not confident teaching STEM subjects and the concept and curricular framework of STEM is different from traditional science subjects.
Parents often wonder if STEM education is just the traditional education in science and mathematics with a new name. The key factor is innovation. Showing children and young adults how to develop new ways to solve existing problems leads to a reason for this area of study. When children are asked to “ask questions, make observations and gather information about a situation that could be forecast in the future that can be solved through a new way of thinking”, we elevate the value of the learning to a new level. “Engineering Design Process” is designed to address this innovation process which in traditional science subjects couldn’t find and execute.
It is easy to think of STEM as a tech workshop. However, it is not. Although technology can play a role in understanding concepts such as coding and logic, the essence of STEM Learning is in teaching children a way of thinking as analysts. In other words, it is the development of the skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation that are at the core of a programme designed to teach children to be creative and innovative. The skills of solving existing problems with new ways of thinking can be addressed by creating challenges that are in the domain of science, technology, engineering and maths. The outcome of creating a curriculum that encourages skill development includes developing individuals who are less likely to be redundant in future workforces when automation changes employment opportunity. Students who have been taught the skills of remember, understand and apply may have little opportunity compared with students who are skilled in analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
However in the recent survey conducted by the Federation of Education Workers in Hong Kong, only 36% of teachers are confident teaching STEM. Although teachers are willing to devote more times for learning STEM, the global STEM challenges will demand us to response fast. Given the difference between STEM Learning and traditional Maths and Science teaching, joint development of schools and STEM learning providers will be the trend to speed up. While school focus on the overall children learning development, STEM learning providers drive more innovative learning process that stimulate children analysis, synthesis and evaluation skill in solving real-life problems using STEM knowledge.
As a STEM Learning Provider, we are happy to see these findings matching our observations and the principles of running our services.

 

Wish You All HAPPY & SMART YEAR 2018

20 December 2017

STEM course, STEM, Coding, Robotics, STEM Education
STEM year 2017 is coming to end. It means lots of things for STEMex and Hong Kong. The community starts understanding STEM is not just Robotics & Coding. It comprises different components in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. The foundation Power & Energy, the application of STEM for building SMART City for our future. These are encouraging factors for building up the foundation of Innovation in Hong Kong. However, the role of parents, schools and community in STEM Innovation is a long-term forward looking stakeholders. They play the influence role to our next generation how to look at their future on STEM.
To develop our next generation’s vision on STEM, parents pay the key role.  Starting STEM education in their kids junior years helps planting the seed in. STEM activities with fun and challenges motivates kids. Inquiry-based interactive experiences let children to explore the world and their surrounding. This joyful journey connects to their future and on the way allows parents to see the potential and faculty their children process.
To empower parents, we plan to launch STEM Parents Workshop and STEM Learning Testimonial Program to facilitate parents building up the understanding on their kids STEM potentials in the early stage. After completing a series of program, a portfolio on the achievements, attitudes and generic skills of the kids throughout the program will be presented.  So we’ll enables parents. Probably we as part of the community understand the children attributes in STEM learning that we can contribute to.  It will be a meaningful reference for individual future development.
Schools also play a vital role in STEM learning. However, the heavy teachers’ workload and the focus on academic achievement are the main obstacles to boost the STEM education. Without the support from the community, the development will not be comprehensive.
School’s ECA is a general approach to introduce STEM but limited to those who join.
To partner with schools in developing STEM education for all, we plan to further enrich our school program contents. We have designed a STEM curriculum that echo the STEM areas for General Study in primary schools. We could work with teachers to empower their engagement with school students in STEM inquiry-based activities.  Through this school-based program, students experience what is STEM, learn how STEM is related to their daily life,  develop problem solving and creativity.  All these contributed to the school’s dedication to nurture our next innovative generation.
With the strong emphasis from government officials on STEM Innovation, there is a good trench among other organisations too. We joined the HKTDC DesignInspire program as they ask for STEM activities promoting Innovation rather than solely on business promotion. Also we partner with Changing Young Lives Foundation (成長希望基金), sponsoring STEM Robotics & Coding programs for their clients. It’s not just bringing the fun and challenges of learning robots and coding, but also connecting adults volunteers and children in the STEM learning journey.
Innovation is a culture. And it takes time and resources to build. Looking forward, with the solid programs that can be qualified and quantify for revision and improvement plus the collaboration among educators, community leaders, and business sectors is the critical successful factor for the success of STEM education in the territory.  We are delight to be able to share with you a few notes from our past effort here.
Wish Hong Kong has a SMART STEM year in 2018!
STEM course, STEM, Architecture

Engaging Children in early STEM Education

27 June 2017
Experts in education, industry, and national security all agree that there is a national imperative to graduate students with a thorough understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM.) But many parents and teachers wonder, at what age is it appropriate to start teaching STEM? And how can we implement these concepts into early childhood education? The answer is: It is never too early to start STEM education, and an ideal way to teach STEM is to go out into nature.
In Engineering For Kids Junior Program, we aim to introduce students at 4 to 6 to Engineering Design Process as a method of individual discovery and inquiry. Provide numerous opportunities for exploration into various fields of STEM through authentic hands-on experiences and real-world application and make learning interdisciplinary through fun and engaging hands-on activities.
 
By asking the right questions, we can help stimulate investigations where students are identifying objects, making comparisons, making predictions, testing ideas, and sharing discoveries, all while engaging various STEM activities. In this way, children can learn concepts from different disciplines in different contexts.
The research is quite clear that the best practice in early childhood education is to break away from passive instruction and allow for more play and investigation, and this kind of learning early in life builds skills and interests that serve children throughout their school years, and later in life. Lilian G. Katz, in STEM in the Early Years, lays out a case that the best practice for early education is to allow students to be active, engaged, and take initiative in their own learning. Long-term research also indicates that being allowed opportunities to take initiative in your own learning is not only good for STEM learning, but for overall long-term academic success.
Our Summer Junior Camp, Challenging to the Sky allows students to be active, engaged, and take initiative in various sky related topics like 321 Blast Off, Sailing the Skies, Over the River, Arches and Stomp Rockets.
Early childhood education should tap into children’s natural curiosity and give them ample opportunities to be active participants in their own learning. Natural settings offer children almost unlimited opportunities to explore and investigate, helping them build STEM skills that create a solid foundation for future learning
We are ready to Challenge the Sky now. What about you?