Sunday, March 29, 2015

Some more Ideas to promote STEM education in next generation

This month, Bill writes about the importance of promoting Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM) education and discusses on aspects of how to create and encourage the next generation of STEM professionals.  In 2014, through an ASQ survey, members were asked to provide advice to engineering students on how to develop the STEM skills.

The advice from ASQ members were on topics such as - i) improve analytical thinking and develop ability for big picture thinking, ii) improve communication skills, iii) find qualified mentors, iv) take business courses, v) have well-rounded interests including arts, and, vi) form team projects and strong organizations.

The survey from ASQ was a fantastic effort and another great social initiative from ASQ.  While the member survey resulted in various useful advice to students and the budding engineering community, I would like add and complement some more thoughts, as listed below:

1. Firm up fundamentals - Many a times, the student missed to learn the basics of science and technology courses and, in turn, they find it difficult to take up advanced courses.  The school curriculums should be adjusted to firm up to teach students on fundamental topics which will help lay a strong foundation in students and can generate or promote interest to learn science, technology and mathematics.  Educational organizations can provide more opportunities for those students to catch up on learning STEM fundamentals

2. Foster ideation, innovation by setting up local clubs and chapters - Young generation always have tons of innovative ideas.   Many have and think about their ideas and, unfortunately, do not proceed further to build or test the ideas.  It is important for schools and other business organizations to build local clubs or chapters (similar to Toastmasters club) to foster ideation and innovation etc

3. Promote education through social media - The new generation really embraces social media and daily find time to spent there.  Social media can transform as a channel to foster new generation education.   Business organizations and schools must leverage social media to promote networking, knowledge sharing, learning amongst students

4. Intrinsically motivate to learn through gamification - Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are getting popular now a days.  Top schools around the world now offer free online education to millions of students.  With proper use of gamification and MOOCs, students can be intrinsically motivated to learn STEM topics

5. Provide more infrastructure for hands-on experiments - While there will be plenty of avenues to learn theoretical topics, it is important to have the best infrastructure available to try-out what the students have learned.  Universities, schools, business organizations must join hands to set up "open-labs" for students to come and try hands-on experiments and practical exercises.  Simulations will play a big role, with emergence of mobile, big data and cloud, online infrastructure also needs to be set up for such needs.

STEM is extremely important and the foundation of growth for world economies.  It is therefore important for the world community to participate and contribute towards various initiatives to develop strong STEM professionals.


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