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Through practical and real-world experiences, STEM learning offers pupils a unique insight into their learning, as well as the opportunity to explore subjects in a different way. STEM is typically defined as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, although some educators also advocate STEAM, which includes the Arts within the portfolio of subjects. Ultimately, the creativity, problem-solving and teamwork that STEM activities can develop are valuable in providing links to real-life situations for students.
Extracurricular clubs are a great way to allow all to get involved and potentially discover new interests and talents without the pressures of covering the curriculum and assessment. In primary don't need to be expert - can model learning/creative approaches, however, the challenge in primary can be staff being interested and confident enough to give it a go - not sure of figures but primary appears to attract far more arts/humanities graduates rather than STEM graduates.
STEM activities are perfect for regular metacognitive reflection. Questions, such as: Is this working? How can we look at this differently? Do we need to change our focus? What helped/hindered us in our approach to this task? are all metacognitively based, and can help secure strong connections for learning.
Start activity with an enquiry question for the students to solve (e.g. how can we drop an egg from a height without it breaking?). They're also great for teaching children that mistakes are an important part of the learning process (idea link), making it possible to explore and discover any misconceptions. Children generally get excited about making anything with a practical application - creating something that didn't exist before. Adding in a 'pitch' element at the end for older primary really makes them focus on the objective.
Find out what the misconceptions and biases are first. Regarding women in STEM, there are excellent role models but we need to make girls aware. I would regularly name tables as female scientists and task pupils with finding out about them and their contributions (@Mathsmoves). Girls at single-sex schools more likely to take advanced STEM subjects (article)
Some great apps for iPad, or on Google Play, that can support STEM teaching and learning…
A 10-hour project, with groups running experiments on bath bombs, tea bags, crisps and lemonade, via Perrott Hill Prep School, UK.