How to Engage Students in STEMPosted December 23, 2014, 3:00 pm by
Every teacher and education professional knows that students often get bored in the classroom. The reasons for boredom are as complex and interrelated as they are valid. A student can be bored because they just don’t understand or they are disinterested in the subject. The trick is to know how to engage students based on established interests and what they have previously learned.
Teaching STEM subjects involves discussing and learning a fair bit of theory, which should be supported by hands-on experience at every opportunity. The next best option is to get students into pairs or small groups and get them to produce something that they will have some fun doing and will remember. Whether it’s an organ system or an ecosystem, a giant covalent structure or a schematic of electrolysis, students should work on a design of their own making. This is particularly helpful for visual learners or those students who enjoy artistic subjects. You can then ask students to explain three things they have learned from their efforts, connecting what they have made to the concept being taught.
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Embrace the Subject
If students are disinterested in the subject being taught, then they are not going to succeed and achieve in the subject. The best way for students to become interested is for them to embrace how the subject aligns with their current interests. This means encouraging students who like to play video games to watch a program on what computer game developers do for their jobs. Or, for students interested in Earth and space physics, recommending science fiction novels for leisure reading. Connecting the concept being taught to a concrete, everyday interest helps establish a deeper understanding of the subject.
Any opportunity for educational enrichment is encouraged because the results in terms of whole student development are more than rewarding. Connecting STEM concepts to hands-on projects and everyday interests makes concepts easier to understand. Overall, STEM encapsulates some of the greatest achievements of our species. If the great men and women of science had not stopped to ask questions that began with “why.....?” then we would not have many of the devices, opportunities and level of development that we as people currently enjoy. This alone should be enough for any student to get interested in STEM subjects.