Preparing the next generation for jobs that don't yet exist
How technology is reshaping education
It’s evident we live in a digital world. This past decade has seen rapid and massive advances in technology that has opened doors to new fields of study and created new industries overnight. Think back to 2000 when the world was focused on the Y2K bug and mobile phones were just making it on the scene. Now fast forward to 2016, where we find ourselves engulfed in an entirely new tech revolution – social media, self-driving cars, augmented reality (hello Pokemon Go!), smart homes, etc.
As tech has evolved over the past 15 years, new STEAM careers have emerged in fields such as 3D printing, robotics, nanotechnology, IoT/electronics, sustainability, cloud computing, and application development. So what will the next 10 years bring? According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, economic projections demonstrate a need for approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade. These jobs are necessary if the U.S. wants to retain its historical preeminence in science and technology.
Preparing the next generation
We can begin by exposing students to the relevant Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) in-demand skills early in their learning journey. Through hands-on projects and integrated STEAM curriculum, we can spark curiosity and develop a mindset of critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. This combined skillset fosters innovation and will better prepare our students for what lies ahead. Through a holistic approach to education and learning, we can strengthen the connection between what students learn in/out of school and their future careers.
According to Kevin Baird, Chairman of the non-profit Center for College & Career Readiness, students retain less than 10% of what they read alone, but 75% of what they practice by doing. Hands-on activities reinforce classroom learning by adding a new opportunity for discovery. Many schools are recognizing this by launching Makerspaces, after school STEAM programs and redesigning their curriculum to integrate hands-on, design-based learning activities such as 3D design and printing, electronics, coding, and robotics. Hands-on learning through “making” activities fosters and builds 21st century learning skills necessary for students to thrive in today's global economy.
Engaging students in design and project-based learning can nicely complement traditional brick and mortar education. According to a recent report by Steelcase Education, 90% of learning happens outside of the classroom. STEAM enhanced programs and curricula offer students new formats and environments to explore that may be better suited to their individual learning needs.
Where to begin
A great place to start is to choose STEAM activities that are fun and interesting for your students. As digital natives, students today expect technology in the classroom. So why not start with some fun online electronics projects that light up, blink, and move? Autodesk Circuits is a set of free and easy to use online electronics simulation tools for learning electronics including bread boarding, Arduino programming, Circuit Scribe, and more. If you're new to electronics, no worries, there are free tutorials to get you up-and-running in no time.
There are also thousands of easy to follow step-by-step electronics projects on Instructables.com. You can learn to build just about anything from low cost conductive play dough to the Star Wars BB8 droid, even a self-watering plant. The options are endless.
Get started now and leap-start your students into a promising hobby, degree, or career in the STEAM field.