One of the biggest buzzwords of the past several years in the world of education, STEM has been blowing up the scene, making everyone rethink our approach to science and technology. It’s a term used quite often, and many schools are making the push to focus on integrating STEM into classrooms and curriculum. Yet some common presumptions remain when it comes to STEM, and today is an excellent day to debunk some of those myths.
At techJOYnt, we provide programs, curriculum, activities, and more for students, schools, and families alike to enjoy. We love our STEM programs and ideas, but even greater than that is the joy we take in sharing STEM with you. Read on to learn fact from fiction when it comes to STEM, and be sure to check out our STEM enrichment options today!
Before we start…
It’s important to know what the concept of STEM entails. STEM stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” and STEM programs or curricula focus on developing skills to excel in the science world. STEM grew in popularity after many trends noticed that the United States, despite being a global leader in so many areas, was severely lacking in its technological and mathematical developments. Many countries that were evenly matched to the United States in other achievements were scoring significantly higher on math standardized assessments, leading the US to push for growth in mathematics, science, and technology. Even in 2015, Business Insider reported that the US is considerably lower than the average in terms of math assessment scores.
Knowing this brief overview of STEM is crucial to breaking down the myths that currently exist surrounding this national educational trend. Take a look at some common myths below!
Myth #1: You have to be good at math and/or science to be good at STEM.
This is one of the most common myths surrounding STEM, and one that is not only wrong, but can be damaging. Many of us know someone (and that someone might be ourselves) who have said something at one point or another like, “I’m not good at math” or “I never understood science.” The entire purpose of STEM is founded on the belief that everyone can think scientifically and mathematically!
Being “good” at STEM does not merely include knowing scientific facts or being able to invent something. In fact, STEM is more problem-solving than anything else. With STEM programs (such as the ones we offer at techJOYnT), the intention is to present a problem, and to challenge participants to come up with a solution. Part of the reason this has been largely instrumental in curriculum as of late is because STEM incorporates teaching essential problem-solving strategies and techniques.
To excel in STEM, one simply has to be able to confront a problem, be willing to try different solutions, and to not give up. Most would agree that this is a virtue that we want everyone to have, and certainly not limit it to those in the science and mathematical fields. Saying “you’re not good at science and math” is setting up a negative mindset that is the complete opposite of what STEM strives to be.
Myth #2: You need to have fancy equipment to do STEM projects.
Since STEM is based on the art of problem-solving, it does not require an elaborate laboratory or programming software or anything of the sort. A STEM activity could involve giving participants limited materials, and instructing them to build as high of a tower as they can. Being presented with a hands-on, tactile problem is something that is so interactive and engaging for students, and they truly love getting to participate! Considering some classrooms are unfortunately still textbook and paper-based, STEM serves as a welcome respite from the ordinary, and allows for kids to construct and create their own ideas and solutions.
That being said, there is huge benefit to enrolling with STEM programs or pathways. TechJOYnT, as an example, provides facilitators or after-school enrichment coordinators with kits and supplies to help students explore STEM in a more in-depth approach. Having the materials provided to allow for activities such as game design, electronics, robotics, and even app development makes it easier for program leaders to implement STEM into their classes.
Ultimately, you do not need to have fancy equipment for STEM to be successful, but there are easy ways to expand and grow in the virtues of STEM. Take a look at programs offered through techJOYnT today!
Myth #3: STEM is only about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
False! As previously stated, STEM is largely founded in the art of problem-solving, but it goes even further than that. Some schools have actually pushed for a STEAM curriculum, with all the same components but with an added “A” for “Art.” Many view art as another crucial component to the creative nature of STEM, because part of problem-solving means coming up with creative solutions and seeing the big picture (pun intended).
Not to mention, the worlds of art, science, and math have always been incredibly intertwined, but rarely are their crossed pathways brought to the light. Leonardo DaVinci is one of the most famous examples of combining science with art, as his journals depicted technological ideas, as well as an artistic focus. Science and technology rely on more than function to be useful, they must always take design into account. On the flipside, art relies equally as heavily on math when it comes to shape, space, and more. Not to mention, art techniques have advanced through scientific achievements, and vice versa.
Myth #4: Only boys will be interested in STEM projects.
This myth could practically be its own article. Women have been discouraged from careers in math, engineering, technology, and science for centuries, ranging from subtle actions to overt statements. All of these messages sent to women have given the same statement again and again: girls are not good at science and math, and simply cannot do it as well as men. This can be seen in the statistics—as the National Girls Collaborative Project states, “Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce.” Capability has nothing to do with women in the science and math industries, so much of it boils down to the opportunities presented to girls throughout their school careers.
Thankfully, the general consensus is that girls should be encouraged to try scientific and mathematical endeavors, and STEM is a great avenue for this to happen. Yet even more importantly, girls show just as much success and enjoyment in the hands-on nature of STEM as boys do. The lack of women in the science world is not because women don’t like science and experiments and programming, and certainly not because they’re unable to meet the demands of the industry.
Some of the biggest myths in the STEM world are still circulating throughout the educational world and beyond, and it is of the essence to bring the truth to light. STEM is truly for everybody, and truly encourages growth in problem-solving skills, creativity, and more. Investing in STEM programs means an investment in building the future leaders and thinkers to their fullest potential. Find the perfect techJOYnT STEM program for your school, child, after-school enrichment program or more today!