Education is a vital thing that must remain a priority. Quality education will shape humans who can contribute well in life. But the education system must also be able to keep up with the presents to remain relevant. A good education system is an education system that answers the needs of society and can answer the challenges of the futures.
There is one popular theory about learning – constructivism learning theory. Based on this theory, one of the most important principles is that teachers cannot simply provide explanations and knowledge to students. Students must build their own knowledge in their minds. Teachers can facilitate this process by allowing students to discover and apply their own ideas and by teaching students to use their own strategies for learning consciously.
However, students cannot fully understand scientific ideas without engaging in investigative activities where these ideas can grow perfectly. Through scientific inquiry activities embedded in problem-solving designs, students can develop a solution. The method of learning activities that are designed based on the problem-solving process is STEM-based education.What is STEM education and why STEM education is important?
Mastery of Science and Technology is currently an important key in facing challenges in the future. Various challenges that arise, among others, are related to improving the quality of life, equitable development, the ability to develop human resources, and the welfare of humankind through technology and science.
For this reason, STEM education plays an important role in preparing students who have scientific literacy, namely those who are able to think scientifically, creatively, logically, and take the initiative in responding to issues in society. STEM in education is expected to be a medium for students to learn about themselves and the natural surroundings, as well as the prospect of further development in applying it in everyday life.
What is STEM Education?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Some circles have added the discipline of Art to it, so that it becomes STEAM. STEM for education, which was initiated by American scientists, is an approach that combines the four disciplines in an integrated manner into a problem-based learning method.
STEM education was first introduced by scientists from the United States National Science Foundation in the 1990s as the theme of the education reform movement to grow the workforce in the STEM field, develop citizens to become STEM literate, strengthen their STEM skills and increase the global competitiveness of the United States in science and technology innovation.
Based on the STEM educationdefinition, the following are the STEM components or STEM skills:
- Science is the study of natural phenomena through measurement and observation to explain nature which is always changing objectively and naturally.
- Technology is about human innovations that are used to modify nature to meet human needs and desires, thus making life better and safer. Technologies allow humans to travel quickly, communicate directly with people who are far away, get proper food and safety equipment.
- Engineering is the knowledge and skills to acquire and apply scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge to design and construct machines, equipment, systems, materials, and processes that are beneficial to humans economically and in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Mathematics is the science of patterns and connections and provides the language of science, technology, and engineering. Math can translate science, technology, and engineering problems into beautiful numbers, which makes math one of the essential STEM skills.
STEM-based learning methods apply knowledge and skills simultaneously to solve a case. Each aspect of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), if integrated, STEM education will help students solve a problem in a much more comprehensive manner.
- Science represents knowledge of laws and concepts that apply in nature. Science is systematic knowledge obtained from observation, research, and testing that leads to the principles of something being investigated and studied.
- Technology is a skill or a system used in improving society, organization, knowledge, or designing and using an artificial tool that can facilitate and simplify human work and life.
- Engineering is the knowledge to operate or design a procedure to solve a problem. This is very closely related to science, math, and technology.
- Mathematics is the science that connects symbols, numbers, and spaces that require logical arguments without or accompanied by empirical evidence. Mathematics has an important role in the development of science, technology, and engineering.
In brief, what are the benefits of STEM education? STEM-based learning will form the character of students who can recognize a concept or knowledge (science) and apply that knowledge with the skills (technology) they master to create or design a method (engineering) with analysis and based on the calculation of mathematical data and logic (math) to find a solution to solving a problem so that human work becomes easier. The integration of these four fields of STEM knowledge into the learning process will make knowledge more meaningful.
Ask again, why STEM education is important? As a trend in the world of education, STEM exists as an approach in overcoming problems in the real world by guiding the mindset of students to become problem solvers, inventors, innovators, building independence, logical thinking, technology literacy, and being able to connect STEM education with the world of work.
STEM Learning Concept
STEM education means providing practical strengthening of education in STEM fields separately, as well as developing an educational approach that integrates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, by focusing the educational process on solving real problems in everyday life or professional life.
STEM education provides educators with the opportunity to show students the concepts, principles, and techniques of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that are applied in an integrated manner in the development of processes, methods, and systems used in everyday life.
STEM-based learning emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a real context that connects schools, the world of work, and the global world, to develop STEM literacy, hoping that that student be able to compete in a new economic era based on knowledge and technology.
STEM education not only focuses on developing students’ abilities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics but also seeks to foster soft skills such as the discovery of innovations in the field of technology to solve a problem. Based on this, STEM-based education seeks to build a society that is aware of the importance of STEM literacy.
STEM-based education aims to build society to realize the importance of STEM literacy which refers to the ability of individuals to apply an understanding of the four domains that are interrelated with STEM.
|Science||Ability to use scientific knowledge and processes to understand the natural world and the ability to participate in making decisions to influence it.|
|Technology||Knowledge of how to use new technology, understanding how new technology is developed, and having the ability to analyze how new technology affects individuals and society.|
|Engineering||The application of science and technology through the design process uses project-based learning themes by integrating several different (interdisciplinary) subjects.|
|Mathematic||Ability to analyze, reason, and communicate ideas effectively and from the way of behaving, formulating, solving, and interpreting solutions to mathematical problems and their application.|
Benefits of STEM Education
The world’s current condition has changed a lot, so the demands for learning must also change. We can no longer apply the learning patterns as before. With the rapid development of science and technology, the paradigm of education and learning must also adapt to the development of science and technology and the demands of the times.
We must understand the importance of STEM educationand what is STEM education?STEM is a bridge that connects educational institutions (schools) with the real challenging world. We are progressing towards a world that will rely heavily on advanced technologies such as drones, robotics, industrial automation, smartphones, IoT (Internet of Things), and others. So, what are STEM education benefits?
1. Contribute to eliminating gaps in the global industry
Simple STEM definition — STEM is an essential issue in education today. Inadequate education in mathematics, technology, and science has resulted in a shortage of qualified workforce, resulting in global industry gaps.
The increasing number of jobs in various sectors of the economy, science, engineering, and technology increases the demand for workers with STEM educational backgrounds. Today’s industry requires a flexible workforce who can apply knowledge to solve practical problems.
Therefore, it is vital for a country to increase the creativity and competitiveness of its resources through STEM in education. STEM-based education is here to prepare human resources for the challenges that will exist in the future. Life in the future will depend heavily on science and technology, so STEM is very relevant to be associated with the education system.
2. STEM sparks creativity
Engaging in STEM-based learning can broaden the horizons of a learner’s mind. Learning and thinking scientifically and logically will develop students’ abilities in trial and error. STEM will give students the ability to solve problems creatively, question various things, seek the truth, and always be enthusiastic about exploring more about how things work.
Creativity and imagination are two of the thousands of keys to dealing with the disruption of innovation that is happening in the 21st century. The younger generations must be able to have the mindset required by this fast-moving era.
3. STEM produces quality human resources
In summary, STEM in education will encourage students to be able to solve problems in life both individually and in groups by applying knowledge and utilizing technology as a form of concern and contribution to responsibly improving environmental and life quality.
The application of STEM education in lectures/learning can encourage students to design, develop and utilize technology, hone cognitive, manipulative, affective, and apply knowledge. STEM-based learning can train students in applying their knowledge to make designs as a form of problem-solving related to the environment and life by utilizing technology and science.
4. STEM capabilities help make the world a better place
Life is now progressing – fast, accompanied by the rapid pace of globalization and the era of modernization. Human daily life is getting closer to technology and science, so it is difficult to leave science and technology in the current era. Technology must be held tight and developed to help make a better world.
Here, STEM graduates have an important role to play in applying technology to create a better global world. STEM-based education will make graduates have the relevant skills and capabilities to make the world even better. STEM graduates will play a role in accelerating progress in various vital industries such as logistics, manufacturing, health care, agriculture, and others.
5. Students will have a logical, systematic, and critical mindset
The integration between Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in one learning experience makes the knowledge and skills acquired by students more significant, not stopping at theoretical knowledge alone. Students understand that they can use the concepts they learn in school to solve problems in real-world settings.
The STEM approach builds students’ soft skills and character to become an innovative, solution, and collaborative. With STEM in education, students are trained to develop reasoning power, critical thinking, and systematic logic of thinking in solving problems. This ability is expected to continue to be literate in students so that they become a reflective citizen and is able to contribute to providing solutions to problems in various fields.
6. STEM graduates are needed in this era
Science and technology will bring advancement to human civilization; science and technology will also drive the wheels of the country’s economy and the global economy. Human life today is also very dependent on technology and science.
Technological developments facilitate human life and daily activities. No need to use stairs, humans can go up to the 100th floor in just 3 minutes using the fast lift; no need to send letters by post, humans can send a message fast in just seconds using mobile messaging; no need to come to a restaurant, we can order food and have it delivered by a robot; no need to send humans to Mars, we can just send robots to Mars to do research.
There are so many contributions of science and technology to human life, and it will continue because human needs are unlimited and human expectations are very high. That then makes the demand for STEM education graduates very much needed in the current era.
Math and STEM
A person’s scientific literacy is closely related to technological and mathematical literacy. A person’s ability in science is very much influenced by systematic, logical, and rational thinking, which can be trained in mathematics.
Mathematical skills will be beneficial to be used to perform critical analysis of a phenomenon in science, mathematics is an integral part of science. Someone literate in mathematics will usually have the ability to think about phenomena that are found logically, systematically, and based on critical thinking.
Scientific literacy is inseparable from mathematical literacy. Producing innovations or technological products based on science, generally always bridged by mathematical literacy. Mathematical literacy is defined as the capacity of an individual to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to strengthen judgments, and to tie mathematics in a way that conforms to the needs of the individual today and for life in the future as constructive, caring and thoughtful citizen.
A person who has mathematical literacy will have the capacity to do these things:
- Recognizing and interpreting mathematical problems faced in everyday life
- Translating these problems into the context of mathematics
- Using mathematical knowledge and technical to solve real life problems
- Compare the results with other original problems
- Reflect on the methods used, as well
- Formulate and communicate the results.
We can interpret the explanation above that someone who has mathematical literacy will be able to solve real problems using a phenomenal approach to define mathematical concepts, structures, and ideas in the real world.
In essence, scientific literacy and mathematical literacy show a strong interrelation. A person who has scientific literacy does critical, rational, and systematic thinking by using symbolic language to solve scientific problems, which will certainly be shown if one has mathematical literacy.
STEM education integrates critical fields in modernization, namely science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, to develop student creativity by solving everyday life problems.
The 21st-century education system develops 4 aspects: ways of thinking, ways of working, mastery of technology (tools of learning), and the ability to live in a global world (how to live and survive in the global world).
One of the important components of STEM is mathematical literacy. In simple terms, mathematical literacy can be defined as when a person is able to analyze, reason, and communicate their mathematical knowledge and skills effectively to solve real-world problems.
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