6 Inspiring Ways to Continue STEM Education During the Pandemic
By Devishobha Chandramouli
The pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of our lives and most significantly in areas of education. Students and educators all around the world are gearing up to a new way of learning and teaching, and many subjects have successfully transitioned online. However, STEM learning is a particularly challenging area to replicate online since it requires fieldwork and physical access to laboratories. While there is no denying the challenge, educators worldwide are also seeing it as an opportunity to include diverse, real-world activities into their students’ STEM-learning experiences.
The following are six inspiring ways to apply STEM learning makeovers during pandemic times:
1. Enable remote capabilities for experiments
The Oak Ridge Computer Science Girls program’s vision is to help cultivate the next generation of female STEM professionals. Following the pandemic outbreak, the team took their weekly classes on subjects ranging from artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things online. Some of their teachers set up an Internet of Things class in their homes that allows the girls to control the LED boards remotely. The team also runs contests that let the winner set up the experiment at home. The classes have scaled quickly, and enrolments are coming in from far and wide.
2. Develop online STEM resources
The pandemic has forced many teachers to take their regular resources online to get the students’ discussions and ideas flowing.
Monash Education has collaborated with teachers and developed a dedicated suite of videos called ‘Let’s Talk STEM.’ Each video is 4-6 minutes long with many resources and talking points to support student discussions around STEM.
Another fabulous example is the ‘At Home with Dr. Science’ video series developed by Dr. Williams, a clinical professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University. Dr. Williams features his own children doing basic science activities from home-based things, making STEM education fun and accessible with online learning.
3. Support STEM teachers
The National Science Teaching Association recognizes that turning to virtual experiences is a long-term strategy with an eye toward enhancing face-to-face programming with virtual content and interactions in the future. They support the K-12 teacher network through free and open-access online resources such as the ‘Daily Do.’ to help teachers plan their activities.
4. Analyze Real Data
The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to analyze real data, and several organizations are using this to give hands-on STEM experience to their students.
Students enrolled at the Harrisburg University Computer Informations Science Master’s program have built data infrastructures and algorithms to track COVID-19 trends, giving students a real-world understanding of health reforms and their implications.
5. Repurpose supplies for pandemic support
Using STEM knowledge to repurpose medical equipment for people’s safety at the pandemic’s frontlines is a great way to apply STEM learning with impact. The students of the Science and Technology department at Western Carolina University are doing just this by making visors for protective face shields using 3D printers.
6. Create New Ecosystems For Learning
Since the pandemic has forced all learning to go online, homes have become the primary places for learning for millions of students. Several brands have stood up to the challenge and helped students access quality learning in their new ecosystems by creating dedicated STEM content hubs.
Microsoft has launched its DreamSpace HomeSpace initiative that delivers a themed STEM lesson to its users every day of the week. Following the 30-minute tutorial is a home-based challenge that helps students firm up the concepts they learned.
Another fabulous example is STEM Ecosystems that includes educational resources with a virtual lab accompanied by a podcast dedicated to helping students learn STEM skills from home-based environments.
The pandemic has truly breathed new life into the adage “If the student can’t come to school, take the school to the student.’
About Devishobha Chandramouli
Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha – a global parenting and education collective, and the host of the global virtual conferences hosted on the platform, one of them hosted in collaboration with UNESCO. You can also find her voice on the Huffington Post, Mother.ly, Entrepreneur, LifeHack, TinyBuddha, Thought Catalog and many other publications.
Follow Devishobha Chandramouli on Twitter @kidskintha