In some regions throughout Asia, educators have relied heavily on textbooks to teach science and math, but experts say kids need learning environments that foster creativity.
“Science at Indonesia’s schools is taught theoretically through textbooks. In fact, science needs to be taught through hands-on experience. Otherwise, it won’t attract children,” Jane Nawilis, founder of the Jakarta Society of Women Engineers (SWE), told The Jakarta Post.
In February, Nawilis attended “For The Love of STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math” in Jakarta. Hosted by SWE, the event was a major extension of SWE’s engineering week program, which engages kids with coding, robotics and science engineering. The event gave kids a chance to use creativity to solve problems. While primary schoolers used chemical reactions to make ice cream, older kids got imaginative building rockets and mini washing machines. In the process, they learned all about gravity, rotational motion, and centripetal force.
David Cheuvront, a retired NASA engineer, visited a school in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India in January. He told First Post that schools need to create non-competitive environments that foster STEM skills, including those necessary for future space exploration. He said teachers should give kids opportunities to learn on their own. For example, students can engineer mock-ups from items they find at home, like cardboard.
“This way, kids learn to make honest evaluations of materials, designs, check their usability, they learn to draw, there is 3D modeling, sometimes there is written requirement where they need to describe things,” Cheuvront said.
He said students’ STEM education should prioritize three things — skills, developing skills, and being able to develop those skills without having to compete with others.
“This emulates to some extent, what everybody does in creative fields,” Gibbs added.
Germany’s Goethe-Institut is using film to teach STEM. Each year, it hosts a science film festival where kids learn how soft skills like creativity can be applied to hard sciences. The film festival aligns with the United Nations Decade of Action to accomplish Sustainability Goals, including clean water and green energy, and educates children on topics like food security, light, and material science.
After surveying over 200 educators throughout Southeast Asia , the Goethe-Institut discovered that many teachers in the region have not been trained on how to teach problem-solving in STEM, nor did they have resources to guide them. The Goethe-Institut provides an online learning platform for teachers, which includes resources in a variety of languages.
“The teachers are themselves introduced to new ways of informal learning approaches, how scientific principles and knowledge in general can be communicated in a way that engages the interest of students in particular, who might not have an affinity for science,” Andreas Klempin, who heads the festival, told GovInsider.
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