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AV and STEM Trends in 2023

Among educators, STEM curriculum has been a focus for years. That focus continues into 2023, as the future will clearly be defined by technology. High-paying, stable careers are plentiful in science, engineering, and technology fields. STEM teaching gives your students a head start toward those career paths. If your school is ready to jump on the STEM bandwagon, it's an exciting time to do so. 2023 promises to be an interesting year in AV educational tech, as integrators and manufacturers get better at tailoring their solutions to a post-pandemic, K-12 environment. Here, we'll take a look at a handful of AV and STEM trends to look for in the new year, and how they can be leveraged for your students' benefit.

Schools Are Converting Large Spaces into STEM Learning Hubs

There's a lot of activity and creation involved with STEM lessons. Much of STEM is about developing a solution to a problem, and then making that solution. This lesson delivery approach can be scaled up and down in complexity. Robotics? Obviously, STEM. Crafting with popsicle sticks and rubber bands? That is also STEM. In short, STEM spaces are makerspaces, and makerspaces need room to flourish. That's why schools are increasingly transforming their large and communal spaces into STEM learning areas. Libraries and unused computer labs are both common targets for STEM initiatives, though some districts are breaking ground on dedicated facilities just for STEM labs. Of course, most districts need to ramp up their STEM efforts before they're ready for a standalone building. They can do so by outfitting STEM spaces with makerspace furniture - like Spectrum's Aspire desks. These can be arranged to create pods of any size, so no student is left out of the lesson. Placing an interactive display at each pod is also a good idea, as this can kick off collaboration between students. With the display, student teams can whiteboard their ideas and keep a running design document going. When the day is done, STEM storage cabinets and racks make cleanup, organization, and charging simple for teachers.

VR Technology is Immersing Students in STEM Education

VR and AR solutions have been available to schools for several years, but they continue to get better. With VR and AR technologies, teachers and students have a world of potential experiences to share in. This includes many opportunities to introduce STEM learning into the lesson. ClassVR has been a favorite of ours for a while, and it remains the top VR option for schools. A ClassVR package comes with a set of VR headsets (packages of eight or 30 are available), a secure charging station and lesson delivery software. Everything you need to power VR learning. ClassVR is one of the few VR solutions purpose-built for the classroom. In addition to a wealth of lesson content, it gives teachers lesson planning and delivery tools that make classroom management a snap during a VR session. From their desk, teachers can create lesson playlists, so one scene follows another without interruption. Teachers can also monitor what each student is doing inside their headset and focus attention on a point of interest. What truly sets ClassVR apart from its competitors is the sheer amount of content the technology comes with. This includes STEM content, like exploring the building techniques behind the world's longest bridges, manipulating a collection of 3D shapes, and exploring the solar system.

Some Districts are Going Mobile with Their STEM Curriculum

Budgeting realities can limit STEM learning initiatives, but some schools have taken this as a challenge instead of a roadblock. For example, some schools are creating mobile STEM stations that can be moved from room to room, or even between schools. STEM buses are one example, and they're becoming more popular among STEM-focused districts. How does a STEM bus work? Take a school bus that's not getting any use, take out the seats and create STEM stations inside. This could be simple stuff, like making paper airplanes, but there's potential for so much more. For instance, shade the windows, add a few displays (or a projector), boost the audio and simulate a field trip through space. It's as close as it gets to The Magic School Bus. But if your school only needs on-campus or in-class flexibility, mobile AV carts are an inexpensive and simple solution. These carts can be used to mount displays, organization cabinets, or racks for smaller devices (like Chromebooks).

AV Solutions are Inspiring Teachers to Change the Way They Arrange Their Classrooms

AV technology has been featured at the front of the classroom for a while, but teachers are looking for a bit more flexibility. Currently, interactive displays are the classroom workhorse, but it's common for them to be underutilized. That's understandable - interactive displays do perform well as a front-of-the-classroom information delivery medium. They're the modern chalkboard or overhead projector. However, interactive displays can also be used to drive student-led learning. Again, STEM relies on tactile, hands-on learning - the kind of learning that interactive displays are well-suited for. In elementary, an interactive display can be used for student-led art projects. For older students, student-led STEM lessons include whiteboarding math equations, diagramming engineering projects, or running a physics simulator to make hypotheses and record data. In these STEM learning spaces, multiple interactive displays may make sense in order to break the class into more manageable groups.

STEM Education Provides Students With a Brighter Future, and AV Technology Makes STEM Teaching More Effective

An educator's job is to prepare students for the future they'll face after school, and the future is STEM. The number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers is growing, and those careers are some of the most secure, well-paying jobs available. The surest way to connect your students to those high-achieving careers is with engaging STEM education. A lesson that "wows" can be a life-defining experience for budding scientists and engineers. The only challenge is developing and delivering engaging STEM lessons. Fortunately, it'll be much easier to do that in 2023. The last few years have seen a wave of AV technologies designed to enhance STEM learning. Look for that trend to continue.