In the last few years, technology has become an important part of our daily lives. As a result, schools across the country are focusing more on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects.
STEM requires students to be able to decipher technical writings, have a broad vocabulary base, practice critical thinking, as well as be able to express their ideas both orally and in writing. In other words, STEM education promotes strong literacy skills.
While traditional definitions of literacy include the ability to read and write, modern definitions recognize that literacy encompasses much more than just these abilities. It's all about the ability to communicate, collaborate, and connect in today's workforce. This is why STEM and literacy go hand-in-hand.
STEM Promotes Digital Literacy
Understanding and operating digital technologies, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets require digital literacy. With each new invention that makes its way into our everyday lives, technical comprehension is growing at a fast pace.
STEM projects can help introduce digital knowledge even at a young age. Through STEM, students learn how to comprehend technical writing, manipulate devices, and use technology to communicate, research, and solve problems.
STEM Teaches Critical Thinking
Critical thinking encourages students to go further than just a yes or no answer. By thinking critically, students develop more sophisticated language, such as "because," and sentences containing "if" and "then." Students learn to analyze and brainstorm possible solutions by themselves.
According to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), being able to brainstorm and solve real-world problems is a key factor necessary in the world of engineering and science. Not only does critical thinking help in these areas, but it is becoming more relevant in today’s world due to the ever-increasing technological advancements. STEM courses and projects that require thinking outside of the box help to build students' vocabulary, critical thinking skills, and confidence.
STEM Improves Communication
STEM enables students to try various solutions and make changes where there are issues. Because of this, students feel free to experiment without the fear of failure, fostering an environment of confidence and helping students become more confident in expressing their creativity and ideas.
Just like in real-world situations, in STEM activities, students need to think through processes and develop a clear approach before responding. This requires reading and relaying steps/processes to others, which helps students learn interpersonal skills.
Moreover, STEM fields aim to provide answers to the problems that the modern world faces. In doing so, teamwork and cooperation among specialists from diverse fields are the foundation of STEM, which teaches students who study STEM to communicate effectively across different fields.
STEM Encourages Reading
Lastly, STEM projects focus more on hands-on work, rather than informational text, and often, students don’t even realize the amount of information they are reading and comprehending. For those projects or areas where there isn’t much information, there are ways to incorporate additional text to help increase your student’s literacy.
For example, biographies may help students learn how certain scientists developed specific gadgets, and in turn, students can attempt to come up with fresh and creative approaches to those same creations in a classroom setting. Additionally, to ensure that students understand the why and how of a project, you might ask them to give a final project presentation. Having a pre-planned list of questions and responses allows students to prepare ahead of time for the actual discussion.
STEM Promotes Overall Success
From reading and comprehension to critical thinking and communication, STEM offers critical skills necessary for today’s careers. STEM education increases employability and prepares individuals to meet current job demands because it includes the whole spectrum of knowledge and expertise.