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3 Technologies That Bolster STEM Learning

The STEM Education Coalition states there are currently 26 million STEM jobs in the United States--this makes up 20% of all jobs. Despite the growing need, there is a severe disparity between the number of jobs available and the number of qualified applicants. With many initiatives working to increase interest among school children in the STEM fields, technology is playing a larger and larger role as time moves forward. Here are few unexpected ways in which technology is helping to improve skill sets and bolster interest in STEM:

 

  • Virtual laboratories--Gone are the days wherein you need a dedicated lab room for students to conduct and learn from experiments. Thanks to interactive technology, more and more students are able to engage in experiments through virtual laboratories. While we cannot discount the benefit of performing experiments in-person, they are often limited to time-constraints (particularly with setup and breakdown), class size and available resources. Virtual laboratories offer stream-lined experiences with an opportunity for experiments to be repeated at no extra cost. In some cases, students can even perform the work outside of standard class hours. This helps to encourage out-of-class learning and further understanding of the course material.

  • In-class mobile devices--There are now hundreds of apps that promote STEM learning and with more and more students having access to tablets and smartphones, they are able to take their education with them wherever they go. As the demand for such options increases, products like the einstein Tablet + have been produced specifically with STEM education in mind. The einstein Tablet + is sold with modules and experiments related to biology, chemistry, environmental science, human physiology, and physics.

  • Television programming--Though excessive television watching is a leading factor in higher obesity rates, the quality of the programming itself in improving by leaps and bounds.  PBS, Hulu Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime all host a variety of educational programming for youth to enjoy while learning about science-based practices and the natures of the STEM fields themselves. Some educators supplement their coursework with episodes of these programming to help illustrate how learning the material can be fun and relate more directly to real life.

 

With children today growing up with an almost inherent aptitude for technology, the potential betterment of these technology options is noteworthy. Yet it is important to recognize and acknowledge the significant benefits in-person experiences afford students. Just as with any skilled profession, the necessity for children to familiarize themselves with the tools of the industry should not be overlooked. Physically interacting with scientific equipment and resources promotes real-world understanding and provides tangible outcomes. As more advancements in educational technology become available and more scientific equipment becomes accessible, we can expect to see a marked improvement not only in learning but an increase in interest as well.

 

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