STEM learning is important in preparing children for their place in society, but how does this benefit children that are not interested in STEM? The industrial revolution has evolved over the years, from people using water and steam to power systems; to systems now being automatically driven digitally through code and various automated machine programing. This evolution has been evident in every facet of life, especially in the way we interact with technology in our daily lives; from how we order food or navigate roads using apps to how we watch movies online. To ensure we can stay on track with the various tech revolutions, the average person is required to be tech-savvy; to say the least.
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When an average person thinks of a tech-savvy person, they would usually picture a geek with glasses behind a screen; who was particularly good at math or science in school. Interestingly, that may not be the case, as we have seen various leading women like Dr. Omobola Johnson, Anne- Marie Imafidon, or Wendy Okolo, who do not fit that nerdy description, but have risen to be leaders in the tech scene globally. What you would find is that these people shared some other skills that they developed purely from having a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math ( STEM) background.
These skills are what we call today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution skills; essential to successfully navigating the digital world. The children being raised right now will eventually get into the work environment; perhaps even earlier than usual through placements or internships. With technology evolving at an alarming rate, it is very relevant that we bring children up with these 4IR (4th Industrial Revolution) skills from an early age. Also, we can see that technology adoption is starting earlier with these new generations of children; with most of them having their first digital device like a tablet at an average age of 5 years old.
4th Industrial Revolution Skills
Some of these skills include; complex problem solving, coordinating with others, critical thinking, creativity, active listening and judgment, and decision making. You would find that studying math or science even if one does not take it on as a career; e.g. a coder, engineer, or mathematician, would help develop these skills. The average science project involves working in teams and solving complex problems. To tackle the average math problem, critical reasoning is tested in analyzing the question and finding the right formula to solve the question. You will also see that a level of creativity is a requirement in designing science projects. In experiments, we teach children how to make decisions based on facts through various testing.
In addition “Being tech-savvy is much more than simply knowing how to use a device; it’s about understanding how a device works. Instead of focusing on the technology itself, think about how your child can develop the spatial reasoning and logic skills; that are important for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Children as young as preschool age can begin thinking like a computer programmer by using simple coding toys or participating in activities like a blindfolded maze, which can teach them how to create and follow commands — the same concepts used in coding. No computer required.” NY times article
All in all, not all children have to be coders, engineers, or mathematics, but they must develop 4IR skills; that would help them navigate the digital world by involving them in STEM learning and benefit from it. Some recommended resources include Google CS First, Microsoft Minecraft, and Khan Academy.