Education is constantly evolving and, when you think about it, it’s incredible how there is still so much to be discovered. As a whole, educators have become aggressively involved in a program called STEM. This is a philosophy built around the idea and process of educating students using contextual, hands-on invisible learning in four disciplines:
Each of these disciplines is in high demand in the job market and growing at rapid rates. It only makes sense that the children we are teaching and raising need to be prepared for the careers that will one day make up a major segment of the job market.
In the Meeper program, the four STEM pillars can be taught together or separately. Science lessons introduce robotics and simple machines. Technology allows you to code your creation and make it move as well as see the Java code that is generated. Engineering is the design and build of machines and systems using a construct children are familiar with and love – the building block (e.g. Lego, Mega Bloks). And, math brings lessons together to measure the activity, designs, and builds.
What makes the STEM curriculum so incredible is that it goes beyond standard textbooks and classroom work. This program is designed to combine these disciplines into realistic lessons that will be used in real-world applications using robotics, digital devices, manipulatives and other hands-on, engaging tools and environments. We blend these disciplines to include building, robotics, and coding to create lesson plans that challenge students in many ways across the STEM pillars.
The end goal is to teach students and build a passion for these disciplines so they pursue these careers and are prepared for the workforce. This requires an early start and exposure to STEM. While there is no set age or grade to start, it goes without saying that the earlier the better. When this curriculum was first presented, parents felt that their children would be too young to really grasp the lessons of STEM. Our lesson plans have been designed for children pre-K to 8th grade with methods for children to experience STEM and develop their skills regardless of age and prior STEM knowledge or experience.
The younger that a child is introduced to the STEM program, the stronger the foundation of the topics and program. Studies have shown that 4 out of 5 STEM college students chose to pursue the program while in high school and that 1 out of 5 STEM college students made the decision to start STEM in middle school or sooner. The numbers are even more striking for young girls. Only 27% of STEM positions are held by women and unless young girls are exposed to STEM in early education the odds are they will not pursue STEM careers.
As a whole, this program looks different for varying levels of education, moving the students up to more challenging levels as they progress in the program. Starting in pre-K and into elementary school, children are simply being exposed to the ideas of these disciplines through hands-on, fun activities like driving or coding a robot. The most effective learning is through play, where they can act on these skills and lessons without really seeing that this is a form of education. This has proven to be one of the best ways to get young children to be passionate about the STEM disciplines.
In elementary school STEM classes, children become more educated in the disciplines, what they entail, and professions to which they lead. This is also where they begin to connect the four subjects and start to develop their skills within each discipline. Educators will also start to implement activities that pique the students’ interests and allow for them to start applying these skills. This will be inclusive of both in school and out-of-school activities.
Moving on to middle school, STEM courses become more challenging. At this point, students may have a better idea of what type of profession they’d want to enter based on their passions within the program. They begin to develop a better idea of which classes they would need to take to pursue their choice of career, and develop an emphasis within the program.
meeperBOTS is a toy that is designed to foster the development of students with the STEM program. This robotic product is a fantastic STEM toy that is fun and educational.