Since the 1990s, STEM education (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) has become one of the most essential building blocks for student success in education. Also known as STEAM (for introducing the arts as a crucial aspect of students’ education), the learning approach has long been accredited for generating educational benefits among students. A STEM education can also lead to quality employment for students in the future where they can effectively use the lessons they learned in school.
However, while STEM education may not be a new concept, schools are changing the way they are approaching it. Students are already surrounded by technology every day. Instead of focusing on teaching how to use technology itself, with an aim to prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technology should be at the center of students’ learning activities to maximize learning outcomes. A transformation to a technology-supported, skills-based curriculum helps students develop specific skill sets and mindsets that will equip them to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world and prepare them for the jobs of the future.
Developing Innovative Skill Sets and Mindsets
When using technology in an active learning environment, students can develop innovative skill sets and mindsets that foster creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities. Skill sets refer to the ability to carry out a task to solve a specific problem, like programming, data science skills, and simulation skills. Mindsets refer to how students approach the world around them, the social-emotional skills they use, and how they solve the problems they face, such as through computational thinking.
For example, if students learn about the effect wind and soil erosion have on farmland areas, they may use a form of geographic technology that identifies the correlations between weather and land characteristics. Through this activity, they will develop skills in data science, simulation, and modeling, as well as a design thinking mindset.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The older model for STEM education was to prepare students for technology-related jobs. Today, STEM education not only helps prepare students for jobs in tech, but for a much wider variety of employment. Since we live in a tech-driven world, technology is implemented into aspects of daily life and work.
Farmers, lawyers, doctors, film directors, bank tellers, and musicians all use some form of technology to be successful. This could be using simulation technology to defend a client in court, using editing software for a movie, or even analyzing data for a bank. By using tech in STEM education, teachers and IT administrators can best prepare students for this diverse, tech-driven economy.
Empowering Girls in STEM
Intel wants to not only equip students with STEM education, but also create equity in STEM. In 2020, the Intel Foundation launched the Million Girls Moonshot movement with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. With only about a fifth of engineering undergraduate degrees belonging to women, the movement aims to create and transform engineering and computer science learning opportunities for girls. The organization also strives to reach one million girls through engaging STEM programs, grant funding, and a collective approach for strengthening existing communities.
Another way Intel is involving girls in STEM is with help from Dr. Arlyne Simon, an Intel engineer with a doctorate in macromolecular science and engineering. In this blog, she explains that a key reason why girls don’t pursue STEM careers is because they lack female role models. Dr. Simon says this is why she wrote a children’s book, Abby Invents, which centers around a young female inventor who creates the world’s first unbreakable crayons. Dr. Simon also explores how we can help future female innovators become empowered with STEM, sharing four steps that she believes can significantly increase interest in STEM for girls.
Intel Resources for STEM Education
Intel’s commitment to STEM education goes beyond technology. The Intel® Skills for Innovation (SFI) framework and support programs help teachers with lesson plans and professional development to gain the experience they need to implement a new approach to their curriculum.
Intel® Skills for Innovation Framework
The Intel® SFI framework aims to enable students to become the next generation of innovators by maximizing the use of technology in education. Sharing, creating, analyzing, and discussing technology-infused assignments allow students to engage more with their lessons while helping them to build advanced skills. By promoting a deeper understanding of their learning material, the Intel® SFI framework helps guide students toward the experiences and knowledge needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Professional Development and Courses for Teachers
In order to best prepare students for the future workforce, educators need to plan how they will teach lessons in STEM to their students. Intel has developed over 60 hours of E-Learning professional development resources to assist teachers in creating innovative, future-ready lesson plans and activities and modifying existing plans for remote l environments. When educators learn how to use technology and integrate the skill sets and mindsets that are introduced in the Intel® SFI toolkit, they can effectively pass on these lessons to their students and help them succeed in school and beyond.
Ready-to-Use Lesson Plans and Materials
Intel has also created the Intel® SFI starter pack that provides ready-to-use lesson plans and other guidance that planners and teachers need to integrate skill building into the curriculum. These technology-infused lesson plans are ready to be integrated into existing curriculums across different subjects and different grade levels. Teachers can use the plans as examples to follow, add their own touch, and create many more activities to help their students learn the skills of tomorrow.
Devices for Teaching and Learning
Several variables need consideration when educators select devices for their students and classrooms, including the needs of the specific learning environments, student age, and the range of applications the device will need to be able to support. It’s also important to think about how a device will grow with students over the next few years. Choosing a device carefully will maximize the benefits to students, and IT administrators can avoid unnecessary device refreshes in the upcoming years.
While there are numerous variables teachers and IT administrators need to consider for student devices, there are fundamental aspects that every device will need: connectivity, manageability, security, graphics performance, and audio/video/computing performance. These device aspects are required to meet the needs of any student of any age and are particularly necessary for hybrid or anywhere learning environments.
Elementary students, for example, will require devices with enough performance to enable multitasking activities, web apps, productivity tools, and videoconferencing. Middle school students will need devices with more mobility and performance power for higher-level applications such as programming and digital content creation. By the time students reach high school, they will require the most performance from their devices so they can engage in data-intensive activities from data science, to esports, to simulation/modeling.
While educators focus on providing the best support for their students’ technological needs, IT administrators need to think about which device will be the best fit. Teachers need their students’ devices to be robust, well managed, and secure. This way they won’t have to deal with technological issues and instead can focus on teaching.
Performance and responsiveness should be abundant in student devices and sized to support the range and applications students will be using. This provides a seamless experience for students and teachers, especially in remote environments. If a student needs their device to run more data- or processing-intensive programs, such as video or content creation software, more performance will be needed for that student’s device. Intel has an extensive portfolio of processors to meet any performance and use needs.
Technology for STEM Education
Technology plays a crucial role for STEM learning and in helping students develop lifelong skills that they can apply to any future job they want to pursue. Planning for and investing in PCs, laptops, and other technological devices that support the range of needs of a new skills-based, active-learning curriculum is critical for a successful teaching and learning environment.