july 2022

Smile Foundation

IN FOCUS 2

Adopting STEM learning to mainstream the marginalized

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. However, its definition and what it represents have changed in recent years. STEM has come to symbolize a distinct approach to learning and teaching, one that is focused on the practical application and the interests of individual students. As a result, any student would benefit from STEM education. Unlike traditional education programs, which focus on individual subjects and particular fields, STEM education focuses on technology and combines courses across various disciplines. In an education system that encourages rote based learning, STEM learning provides the alternative i.e., learning by doing. It promotes students to learn through a practical approach and gain hands-on experience in that process thus, helping them understand the application of concepts in the real world.

By integrating classroom teaching into the actual world, STEM goes beyond basic examination performance and focuses on building higher level thinking abilities. STEM promotes communication, problem-solving, logical reasoning, creativity and good observation, which are abilities that all students, regardless of their interests or professional choices, require in today’s world.Under the current Indian education system, more children are enrolling in school, but a declining number of them are learning basic skills. Half the children finishing primary school cannot make sense of a textbook intended for a seven-year-old or perform basic subtraction. With STEM learning, students would be required to engage in various activities and projects that will help them gain hands-on knowledge. This also makes classes more interesting and interactive for the students, thus making them eager to learn.

Smile Foundation strongly believes in promoting STEM learning as it provides students with necessary tools and resources that further help them contribute to society. In today’s technology-driven world, students need skills like coding, scientific temper and evidence-based thinking. Smile’s STEM project focuses on enhancing the scientific skills of students through a holistic approach that retains interest by providing engaging projects, hands-on experience, and interactive, self-learning activities.

The STEM project’s objectives are to create access to and awareness of multivariate career disciplines, foster skills like teamwork, persistence and application of gained knowledge, stimulate curiosity and creativity, promote learning through a problem and inquiry-based approach and hands-on experience and lastly, introduce effective pedagogy and resources that enable teachers to enhance their skills in knowledge transfer.

Under this project, Smile hopes to, firstly, rebuild/repair and upgrade existing STEM infrastructure and other related needs. Secondly, conduct special online science classes by external faculty or volunteers during and after school hours. Various DIY activities, quiz competitions and an annual science fair will also be held. Workshops wherein students will make models using day-to-day items will be held during winters and summer. Science clubs will be created by and for the students and important days will be observed and various science events will be conducted.

A STEM library will be set up that will entail research and development by subject matter experts. Additionally, training centres will be set up that will train existing teachers, academic facilitators and staff on STEM learning, pedagogy and classroom management.

The STEM project’s objectives are to create access to and awareness of multivariate career disciplines, foster skills like teamwork, persistence and application of gained knowledge, stimulate curiosity and creativity, promote learning through a problem and inquiry-based approach and hands-on experience and lastly, introduce effective pedagogy and resources that enable teachers to enhance their skills in knowledge transfer.

Under this project, Smile hopes to, firstly, rebuild/repair and upgrade existing STEM infrastructure and other related needs. Secondly, conduct special online science classes by external faculty or volunteers during and after school hours. Various DIY activities, quiz competitions and an annual science fair will also be held. Workshops wherein students will make models using day-to-day items will be held during winters and summer. Science clubs will be created by and for the students and important days will be observed and various science events will be conducted.

A STEM library will be set up that will entail research and development by subject matter experts. Additionally, training centres will be set up that will train existing teachers, academic facilitators and staff on STEM learning, pedagogy and classroom management.

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