WHAT IS STEM?
Knowledge expands with great rapidity. We are surrounded by the wonders of technology. To prepare student-teachers for the challenging future this represents, it is important that we equip them with wide-ranging skills. The 21st Century teacher needs to look critically at what and how students are acquiring these skills. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a well-known and well-practiced idea in many countries, here in Pakistan there is still scope for doing more.
I shared the idea of combining disciplines (i.e. STEM) with my student-teachers. STEM is about integrated learning, bring together opportunities for students to develop problem-solving skills, productive team work, decision-making skills, whilst engaging students in innovative projects, making connections with real world problems and creative solutions.
The student-teachers decided to work on 3 different projects. One group made an anemometer - an instrument that helps to measure air speed. Another group designed a conveyor belt – to move things from one place to another. The third group designed a hand-biometric system.
The students worked enthusiastically and enjoyed the projects. 21st Century teachers should always try to bring creativity and innovation to their lessons - scientific literacy is the ultimate goal.
Answering Students' Queries
MC Keache is right in saying that “every class gives us a new challenge." Questions help the instructor to get prompt feedback from the students on what they are learning. However, in my opinion it is both interesting and challenging when we encourage our students to ask questions in our classes. A good teacher encourages students to ask questions and this means that sometimes we can face some very thought-provoking questions.
A good question not only helps other students to clarify their understanding but it also helps to reinforce the content as well. Good questions sometimes open new research dimensions for the course instructor also. In my teaching career I have learnt a lot from my students in different ways. A good question in a class not only promotes critical thinking but also encourages research among students. We teachers also learn from students' questions as this forces us to re-learn.