Goal: To enable all students to be STEM literate to prepare for the world in which they will live and be resourceful and resilient citizens.
- How do students learn what good nutrition is?
- Do they learn how simple it is and important to prepare your own food?
- Do they understand sustainability in food production?
- What comprises a healthy diet?
- What are the basic properties of food ingredients? What is needed and what is not?
- How much exercise do you need and how can you get it?
- Do you attempt to fix something when it breaks, or do you throw it out and buy new?
- Do you understand how to use tools and what they are for? Can you work with all kinds of materials?
- Do you understand basic electricity? Plumbing? Car repair?
- Can you care for your clothes properly and understand fabrics and their properties?
- Can you recycle something broken or not useable in its current form?
- Do you understand how a mortgage works?
- Do you know the basics of obtaining financing to buy a home or car?
The above list is just a start. In our everyday lives we are called upon to do and know about many things. Many of these things we never learn. In a hurry going from job to school pick up, to the grocery store and home, often time is of the essence. Somewhere during this frantic daily ritual, one has to decide what to cook and eat that will be valuable nutrition for self and/or family. One has to consider nutrition, budget and pleasure in all of this. The American habit is to grab something prepared or easy to assemble. We are living in an unfit culture in which most of our food lacks essential nutrition. Children don’t get the rest and exercise they need. These habits become ingrained. We learn from what we see. Why not give students the opportunity to learn life skills as they explore and experiment?
I am a advocate for students having the opportunity to discover, inquire and invent to learn. We can connect these activities to appropriate state and national standards. This is not an add-on or extra. By using or adapting classrooms to fit a modern model, one gives students the opportunity to learn STEM literacy in a safe and facilitated environment. This idea is more than a makers space. I favor using project based learning with comprehensive lesson plans to foster and encourage this exploration and discovery, and at the same time, allow students to tinker, fiddle, explore, design and pioneer.
All children have an active imagination. As the teachers, parents, and facilitators of their future, it is our job to give permission for this imagination to blossom. At the same time, there are many practical skills that relate to STEM education and STEM literacy that students no longer learn. By helping to acquire those skills, teachers and other mentors, who hopefully are community and industry professionals involved in mentoring and facilitating our students, open the door to creativity and innovation. It is such a simple idea. Take what you have and recycle or re-purpose it to suit today’s needs. Whether it be for girls or boys or both, students should learn how to take care of their needs, both personal and financial. The habits of life should not be haphazard.
As cliché as it may sound, each child is special and must believe in their ability to discover. Allow them to tinker, explore and create. Encourage a generation of world pioneers.