Look out into your classroom. What do you see? Students? Kids? Parents’ greatest treasures? Many times, when we look at the people in our classroom, we see them in one of these roles. Another role that we might not consider is future employee. We often miss this critical role our students will play.
STEM prepared students for the present
Let’s face it – the students sitting in your classroom today will be joining the workforce five to 10 years from now. What types of jobs will be available to them? There might be jobs available then that haven’t even been thought of yet. For example, in the year 1990 no one was thinking, “Man, I would really like to design towers for cell phones,” or, “What if I could start a company that designed and sold cell phone cases?”
These opportunities and others related to cell phones didn’t exist in 1990. What did exist was the knowledge about science, technology, engineering, and math surrounding these jobs of today. The STEM concepts and practices taught in Pitsco Modules classrooms in 1990 are the ones being applied by the workers today who are making a fine living in those fields. What can you do to address those jobs that you can’t even conceive of at this moment?
How to use STEM to prepare students for the future
First, make sure the basic information that underlies any type of STEM career is available to the students in your classroom. As a Pitsco lab facilitator, you have at your disposal curriculum that does this part for you. Your STEM Expeditions® or Modules present a myriad of information designed to engage students. The students have opportunities to practice skills that will be critical in the workforce during the 21st century in any career they choose.
As the teacher in the classroom, you can enhance these opportunities and even expand on them through Connections and extension activities in the Expeditions and by utilizing the Enrichments in the Modules. However, you can rest assured you have the ability to provide students with a firm foundation for their futures.
Next, be open to opportunities to stretch learning beyond your classroom. Establish some connections to professionals in fields that might be outside of your experience or expertise. If possible, invite them into your classroom or take your classroom to them to give your students the opportunity to find out firsthand what they need to know in that field.
This will provide valuable context for the material your students are learning. When they see the value in the learning, your job will be easier, and they will devour information in order to give themselves those opportunities they find rewarding.
Just remember, the transition from school to work is inevitable for all students. You were once a student, and what are you doing now? The more opportunities you give to your students, the better prepared they will be for a future that is often difficult to predict.
I've been a Curriculum Specialist at Pitsco since 2008, using what I learned in classrooms to create engaging curriculum for students to engage with STEM. I specialize in all areas of science, using my 13 years experience in high school and middle school classrooms teaching: biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, and others.