Community Branches: STEM Education in School is Growing
Jon Romine, Landscape Architect for our firm, has the pleasure to serve on the board of directors for the Lee County Foundation for Public Schools. The Foundation has made a huge impact in our community positively promoting STEM Education.
STEM education is a term made popular in recent years by Winona State University President Judith Ramaley when she served as director of the education at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004. The acronym demonstrates the closeness, the interconnected nature of science, technology, engineering, and math.
At 30,000 feet, that’s a fair definition of STEM.
What isn’t easy to see to onlookers all the time are some of the reasons why the STEM education learning process is so vitally important. It all goes back to how we learned how to learn.
STEM means you play to learn
Learning through play is the most native way that human beings learn. We learn through touching, manipulating, and enjoying our natural surroundings. Young children do this through block building, Legos, digging in the ground, and climbing trees (before that we put blocks in our mouths to explore our environment). We learn what gravity is even before we ever enter into a classroom because we’ve fallen over and over again. Our children experience the world through play. Before we even learn about reading, writing and arithmetic, we’re learning about our natural world. This is more STEM than the “3 R’s”.
STEM education encourages failure
Now, it doesn’t JUST happen to encourage failure, it actively pursues failure. Without failure, you don’t know what doesn’t work. When a STEM team designs a solar powered car to run in a race, they don’t just want to know what works – they want and need to know the different ways that don’t. If we don’t find out what doesn’t work, we won’t be prepared to build on previous failures, account for different outcomes, and build it bigger, faster, and stronger.
STEM doesn’t feel like learning
Nothing gets us going at Ensite quite as much as STEM education in our southwest Florida region. Our team volunteers at schools throughout the area through our EnRichment program. We serve as mentors and examples for young scientists, city planners, engineers and technologists. We believe that STEM is more than something you teach; it’s learning in its most basic form and function. It’s exploration and searching out the answers. It’s an adventure.
STEM keeps us from having to grow up when all we want to do is keep exploring.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison