Why STEM Education is Important for Early Development?

 

It is no surprise that children are natural born inquirers and investigators. Since birth they are equipped with the curiosity and burning desire to understand the world around them. They touch everything imaginable, maybe even "pop" into their mouth to see how it taste, they watch and continuously observe. They ask questions, experiment, test our their theories and beliefs, and provide a conclusion. With or without knowing, these are fundamental principles to scientific thinking or inquiry-based learning. 
According to the National Science Education Standards, "Inquiry is central to science learning. When engaging in inquiry, students describe objects and events, ask questions, construct explanations, test those explanations against current scientific knowledge, and communicate their ideas to others. They identify their assumptions, use critical and logical thinking, and consider alternative explanations."
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1. STEM encourages independent learning

Learning through scientific process provides children with the opportunity to be aware of their knowledge and thinking process. They have to make firsthand decisions in deciding what approach they want to take in this problem. How will they organize their data, what if they do something unconventional instead, what kind of conclusion will you receive if they do this method instead, etc. It is essential for children to learn and develop their decision-making capacities. 

2. STEM encourages creativity and innovativeness

John Dewey, a 20th-century educator/ philosopher, believed that it is important that we teach children inquiry-based learning as early as possible. Additionally, the essentials of creative thinking were contained in the processes of science, and that intellectual activity was much the same whether in the kindergarten classroom or the scientific laboratory. STEM encourages children to be creative by thinking of different ways on how to solve a problem. They may even have to step outside conventional thinking and pull from observations to create a whole different way to solve a problem. Whatever method and thinking, this type of learning challenges children's mind to be creative and invent new processes.

3. STEM encourages collaboration and language development

When children learn by asking questions, they are encouraged to communicate their thoughts and ideas. They explain their processes of thinking and make conclusions from practical actions. Additionally, children have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers and teachers by receiving feedback from others, and engaging in complex conversations. By reading and comprehending this material, children join the larger scientific community on the topics they study. STEM not only contributes to their intellectual development but social development by collaborating with others and promoting language development and literacy skills.

Conclusion

As you can see, it is crucial for children to engage in STEM education. These skills are needed now more than ever for children to cope with the challenges of factual overload in our information age as well as to function productively in our technology oriented society. According to the National Science Foundation, "Through the processes of asking questions, obtaining answers, attaching meaning to the results of their investigations, and relating the meanings they make to established scientific knowledge, children build a repertoire of knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that affirm their human capacity to productively use inquiry for their development."

 

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 References:

  1. https://thestempedia.com/blog/benefits-of-stem-education-in-early-childhood/
  2. https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2000/nsf99148/pdf/nsf99148.pdf
  3. https://www.learningliftoff.com/why-stem-education-is-essential-for-younger-kids/