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STEM education around the world

STEM education around the world

STEM education is a global endeavour to improve the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical skills of children and young people. Every country around the world has a different approach to implementing it: whilst some are embedding it within their educational policies, others are delivering it through external organisations

This got us thinking. How does STEM education differ between countries? Who is doing it ‘best’? We’ve done our research and these are the findings:

In 2015, all Australian education ministers agreed to the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016-2026 which focuses on  developing mathematical, scientific and digital literacy; and promoting problem-solving, critical analysis and creative thinking skills. The strategy aims to deliver improvements to STEM education and has two main goals:

  1. Ensure all students finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills
  2. Ensure that students are inspired to take on more challenging STEM subjects

In 2017, the STEM Partnerships Forum was established as one of the key national collaborative actions under the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016-2026. The Forum brought together leaders from industry and education to facilitate a more strategic approach to school-based partnerships with businesses and industry across Australia in order to develop the engagement, aspiration, capability and attainment of students in STEM.

The Australian Government Department of Education commissioned the National STEM School Education Resources Toolkit in response to a STEM Partnerships Forum recommendation. The aim of the National STEM School Education Resources Toolkit is to assist schools and industry to establish new STEM initiatives, form school-industry partnerships, and evaluate existing and future STEM initiatives.

There are various organisations set up in the UK to support STEM education in schools. These include STEM Learning which delivers STEM CPD and a STEM ambassadors programme, and the British Science Association, a charity developing reports and resources for supporting STEM learning.

Scotland has a long tradition of expertise, innovation and achievement in STEM, viewing it as an  integral part of their future economic and social development. In 2017, the Scottish Government published the STEM Education and Training Strategy for Scotland. This set out a vision of Scotland as a STEM nation: with a highly-educated and skilled population equipped with the STEM skills, knowledge and capability required to adapt and thrive in the fast-paced, changing world and economy around us. The 2020 second annual report discusses how Scotland has build upon the progress made.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in education and training publication sets out the Welsh Government’s strategic objectives for the provision of STEM for 3 to 19-year-olds in Wales. This includes guidance for making curriculum links to STEM education.

Meanwhile, Ireland has developed a STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 which focusses on the many strengths in STEM education while providing a roadmap to address the areas for development.

The STEM Education Strategic PlanCharting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education, published in December 2018, sets out a federal strategy for the next five years based on a vision for a future where all Americans will have lifelong access to high-quality STEM education and the United States will be the global leader in STEM literacy, innovation, and employment.

In December 2020, the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House issued the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan. This progress report describes ongoing efforts and implementation practices across the Federal Government as it works to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan.

The New Zealand government has recently been encouraging schools to promote STEM education in the hope that this will ease the STEM skills shortage. The Ministry of Education supports teacher training programs such as Teach First and Manaiakalani Digital Teachers Academy programme which help to place high performing STEM graduates and digitally confident teachers in education.

A national strategic plan, A Nation of Curious Minds, is a government initiative with a ten-year goal to promote the importance of science and technology in New Zealand. Since 2015 it has funded more than 175 projects in excess of $NZD 6 million.

India is the second most populous country in the world. In 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi launched the ‘Skill India‘ campaign, aimed at training over 400 million young people in different skills by 2022. One such skill is STEM education. One challenge the country faces in doing so is designing the infrastructure and curriculum to support this objective. Since the campaign began there has been a focus on developing innovation and manufacturing skills from a young age. The India STEM Foundation organisation works in partnership with India’s Department for Science and Technology to promote STEM education across the country.  Other organisations playing a pivotal role in developing STEM education in India include STEM Champ and EduTech.

After reviewing the government policy initiatives and third sector contributions in these countries, we think Australia may be slightly ahead of the game. But what do you think? Add your comments on this below.

Summer STEM Guide

Welcome to the Summer edition of our seasonal STEM guides! It contains:

  • STEM related summer events and themed days/weeks
  • Quick, easy website and activity suggestions for how to get involved (click on the pictures to find out more)
  • Summery STEM resource recommendations

Diaries at the ready! The events listed below are a really good way to help theme your STEM activities and help children to make real-world links. We anticipate lots of outdoor, nature-themed STEM activities over the next few months while the weather is mild and the natural world is alive with colour and activity.

30 Days Wild (throughout June)

This annual nature challenge is organised by the Wildlife Trust. They want you to do one wild thing a day throughout the whole month: starisland.org/cheap-klonopin-online/ for your health, wellbeing and for the planet. That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting Random Acts of Wildness.

How to get involved…

National Dinosaur Day (1st June)

National Dinosaur Day takes place on both the 15th May and the 1st June. It’s a great one for any budding young palaeontologists! Celebrate all things dinosaur by finding out some cool dinosaur facts and taking part in some dinosaur activities.

How to get involved…

World Environment Day (5th June)

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year, and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Learn how all living things on Earth are connected in the web of life and how we can act for nature.

How to get involved…

World Oceans Day (8th June)

On World Oceans Day, people around our blue planet celebrate and honour the ocean, which connects us all. By working together, we can — and will — protect and restore our shared ocean. Join this growing global celebration on 8 June with continuing engagement year-round! To view the education resources on the World Oceans Day website click here.

How to get involved…

Women in Engineering Day (23rd June)

The 23rd of June celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world. It is is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry.

How to get involved…

The Big Butterfly Count (16th July – 8th August)

The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world’s biggest survey of butterflies. Between Friday 16 July and Sunday 8 August choose a place to spot butterflies and moths. Watch for 15 minutes. Then record which species you see on the free app.

How to get involved…

National Marine Week (24th July – 8th August)

This event is the Wildlife Trusts’ celebration of all things marine. Despite the name, it lasts 15 fun-filled days to allow for the variation in tide times around the country. During this time, Wildlife Trusts all around the UK put on a jam-packed programme of events and activities.

How to get involved…

Summer STEM Resource Recommendations

Here are a few of our ‘must have’ summer STEM resources. We think you’ll come back to them year after year with your children! Click on each picture to view it on Amazon.

Have we missed off a summer STEM event or a ‘must have’ summer STEM resource? If so then add it to the comments below. (note: this is a UK based website so some events have a UK focus).

Career-Based Learning: how young is ‘too young’?

 

What did you dream of being when you grew up? A footballer? A vet? A popstar? Ask this question to a class of children today and you may even have ‘vlogger’ or social media influencer thrown into the mix. New research published in January 2020 by the charity Education and Employers found that career aspirations are shaped early, from as young as seven. The report also found a disconnect between the careers children aspire to have and the demand in the UK economy.

Children form their career aspirations from an early age. What we don’t always appreciate is how set these views become while they’re still in primary school. The older children get, the harder their aspirations become to challenge. Crucially, children often aspire to do jobs that they are exposed to. This could be the jobs their parents do or those they’ve seen on the TV and elsewhere in the media. A child could be fascinated by insects but if they’ve never met or heard of a naturalist or an entomologist, how could they possibly aspire to be one?

As educators, we see the passions, talents and skills of the children we educate. However, we can’t expect them to know how to put these to use. A child might have a flair for science but the only careers they might know in science are a doctor, science teacher and a scientist. If they can’t see themselves in one of those jobs then it’s easy to lose engagement with the subject. Career-based learning helps children to make real-world links between what they’re being taught in lessons and the world of work. Through career-based learning we can not only challenge early perceptions and stereotypes, we can also widen career aspirations.

Giving children activities that expose them to the world of work from an early age isn’t daft, it’s helping to give them the best start in preparing for their futures. As soon as children are learning in school, they should be thinking about why they are learning it and where it could be put to use.

Here are a few things you can do to promote career-based learning in your primary school:

Bring in professionals

Invite visitors in to speak to the children about their careers. Putting a note in the school newsletter for interested parents/carers is a great place to start You could also reach out to local businesses, universities, museums or the STEM Ambassador scheme. Where possible, try to challenge children’s stereotypes. For example, meeting a female engineer or a male nurse could go a long way to changing perceptions. If it’s a struggle to fit visitors in to an already fit-to-burst timetable, consider introducing them in the form of a monthly whole-school ‘career assembly’.

Look to the future

While the future is unknowable, there are certain trends and scenarios that give us clues as to what the world of work will look like when the young people we teach enter it. For example, we’re likely to see an increase in applications of artificial intelligence, manufacturing innovation, construction and in improved transportation. We can also predict global challenges in areas including climate change, clean growth, the aging population and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Keep abreast of new developments and discuss them with your class.

Make real-world links

We can all relate to sitting in a lesson thinking ‘what’s the point in learning about this? How is this ever going to be useful to me?’ Pre-empt this by making learning relevant to the children’s lives and giving it a real-world purpose. This could simply be by having a discussion at the start of a new area of maths learning about how we might use it in everyday life, or it might be by giving the class a problem-solving activity with a real-world context.

Begin with a question

Introduce learning with a real-life problem or question. For example, ‘how can we provide shelter for people after natural disasters?’ Then stand back and let the children explore their own ideas and research the problem further, supporting where needed with additional instructions. Link the learning to conceptually similar careers, which, in the example given could be architect or environmental engineer. Introducing different careers through this kind of enquiry-based approach not only contextualises learning but may well sow the seed for inspiring the future generation into a range of in-demand UK industries.

You can read the full report here: https://www.educationandemployers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Disconnected-Career-aspirations-and-jobs-in-the-UK-1.pdf

The Big Blog of Maths Picture Books

maths picture books

Picture books are a fantastic way to explore mathematical concepts. We’ve selected our favourites and matched them to the following mathematical areas: place value, calculation, fractions and measurement.

Click on each image to find out more about the book including the age recommendation, key concept and an Amazon link.

 

 

NUMBER: PLACE VALUE 

NUMBER: CALCULATIONS

FRACTIONS

MEASUREMENT

GEOMETRY

OTHER

Have we missed off a brilliant book? Comment below and we’ll add it on!