U.S. students are having trouble competing on the world stage in math and engineering. According to data collected by the National Science Board, U.S. students’ math and science scores are in the middle of the pack globally, and dead last among G-7 countries, China and Korea. This poor performance means America’s students are at risk of falling behind in the global, tech-charged economy.
The answer is better STEM education for K-12 children, and that can be achieved with AV solutions. AV technology fits perfectly into K-12 STEM initiatives, as they can engage students of all ages and relate complex mathematical and scientific concepts in a compelling way.
Why is K-12 STEM Education Important for Students?
The benefits of STEM education go beyond career preparedness. In addition to giving students a better footing in the workforce, K-12 STEM can help students build the following skills:
- Problem solving – STEM lessons require students to solve complex problems that they don’t encounter in other subjects. These problems require strategizing, planning, teamwork, and execution to handle, and this requires students to think about problems in-depth. STEM lessons don’t just transmit knowledge to students, they show people how to think for better problem solving.
- Creativity – While STEM is math and science heavy, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity in STEM. Some forms of engineering, like robotics for example, require students to stretch their imaginations and produce unique solutions for unique problems. In doing so, children get better at tackling a wider variety of obstacles with a greater variety of tools – a skill the modern fast-paced economy demands.
- Collaboration – Many STEM projects require teamwork to execute properly. Students must work together to visualize solutions, plan out execution, divide tasks among the team and collaborate with each other to solve issues that come up during the process. In this way, STEM content provides opportunities for individuals to function as a group. Something that professionals are expected to do in their jobs.
Students also get familiar with a wide range of technologies while they’re engaging with STEM lessons. Those technological tools may be relevant for certain job tracks, giving students a leg up in nailing down a fulfilling career.
Three AV-focused Ideas That Can Drive Better STEM Learning in K-12 schools
AV systems make STEM learning more effective and more engaging by delivering lessons in a multimodal format. Compared to a traditional stand-and-deliver approach, AV solutions are much more visually and aurally interesting for students. Some solutions also include a tactile element that enhances the multimodal approach further.
There are many ways to leverage AV for STEM initiatives, even for schools operating on a restrictive budget. Here’s three of our favorite approaches:
Break Makerspace into Pods and Pair Each Pod with a Quality Display
If your school has an interest in STEM, it may already have a makerspace in place. Makerspaces are dedicated areas for students to pursue STEM-related projects individually or with other students. Some makerspaces are designed for open accessibility, so students can work on their projects when not engaged in other classwork.
Others, though, are designed to function much like a traditional classroom, with educators providing STEM lesson content while students follow along.
If this is your school’s preferred approach to STEM learning, consider dividing your makerspace into pods and fitting each pod with a display. This is convenient for both students and teachers, especially if there is a document camera or other presentation technology in place. The document camera can be networked to the displays, allowing teachers to present various objects, paper handouts and notes to every display at once.
With this approach, students get a close look at everything, which can be extremely helpful for science experiments and engineering projects. And the instructor can demonstrate important lesson concepts to every student, including those in the back of the room.
Create a Mobile STEM Station Loaded with Primitive Crafts and Instructional Displays
If your district needs to boost STEM learning for multiple schools, consider going mobile with your STEM resources. This could be as simple as rotating portable AV technologies from building to building. The approach could be scaled up, though, if your school is willing to invest in converting a school bus into a STEM bus.
STEM buses are gaining in popularity, as they allow multiple schools to cover their STEM lesson needs. And when the STEM bus pulls up, it’s instantly engaging to K-12 students.
Enhanced audio technology and digital displays can drive a high-tech STEM bus and outfitting your bus with multiple primitive craft stations can also communicate important STEM concepts. Stick a small digital display at each station and teachers can run crafting demonstrations that help younger students step by step.
Provide High School Students with Professional-quality Training with AR and VR Solutions
Older learners will need something a little more sophisticated to engage them. For high schoolers, AV can introduce complex, even professional-level content through augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology.
The challenge with some STEM learning is that it requires a tactile component to really take. It’s difficult to learn how to make something, for example, without actually making or working on that item. AR and VR gives students opportunities to get hands-on, virtually, with the kind of the equipment or technology they’ll encounter in the working world.
If your school invests in vocational options for its students, AR and VR solutions provide your students with tactile-rich multimodal learning, giving them an edge during future professional training.
Is Your School Prioritizing STEM Learning? AV Technology Can Support It
If your school’s STEM education needs to be addressed, a certified AV integrator can help you get started. Certified integrators are experts in system design, installation, and support, including systems built to support K-12 STEM programs. Your AV integrator can take your school’s STEM needs and develop a customized solution that meets those needs, even if your school needs to be creative with its budget and space.