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As teachers, we know now more than ever that STEM skills are essential to provide children with the tools to succeed in the future.

In the classroom, teachers can help their students to develop the valuable, diverse abilities they need to develop passion and interest in STEM fields. But the skills required to succeed in these areas are more versatile than you might think, with everything from soft skills to academic prowess necessary to make the most of what STEM can teach us.

We take a closer look at the attributes that are musts to help children succeed in STEM, why these skills are crucial to providing children with the best possible future, and a more extensive choice of careers. But first, let’s examine precisely what STEM means.

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What is STEM?

As defined by Live Science, STEM is a way of learning and a curriculum based on educating students in four specific fields or disciplines to provide them with opportunities later in life in various careers. The four disciplines of STEM are:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

These vital skills provide students with the foundation they need to develop proficiency in many technical fields and areas, from scientific study to robotics and statistical analysis to hardware development. Since 1990, the amount of people employed in STEM careers has increased by an incredible 79% – but America is still considered middling in our approach to providing STEM education, proving just how vital it is to incorporate the skills and practices STEM provides into the classroom.

How can teachers encourage STEM learning in the classroom?

The best place to start is by looking at the skills required to succeed in such technical and academically focused markets and industries. After all, it’s not just book learning that provides the insight children need to do better; the soft skills and teacher input can make all the difference too.

5 Of The Most Important STEM Skills For Students

1. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving may seem like a valuable skill for any future career or choice, or education. But when it comes to STEM, the ability to combine learning with how those solutions can apply to the real world is vital. Problem-solving is a must for many aspects of various careers and disciplines. Still, when it comes to industries where solving problems is the entire purpose of the work – such as sciences – that ability to solve problems is even more critical.

Everything can be considered a problem that needs solving; having the drive and focus to attempt to resolve issues is a crucial part of the concept of STEM. For students, problem-solving is a must for a lot of their work. Apply those concepts to their more technical projects, making them more likely to connect the dots.

2. The Ability To Argue

We’re not talking about talking back. The ability to debate, or argue a point, is a valuable part of a sciences or technical-based community. STEM can provide the foundations for many careers, but those theories can’t be effectively applied without focusing on the ability to think critically or be analytical. Proving a hypothesis or providing an answer to a question is another vital piece of the puzzle regarding STEM. Making the ability to argue a point or debate a result is essential to many careers in mathematics, sciences, or even technology development.

3. Creative Thinking

Creative skills might be something often considered entirely separate from the realm of STEM, but thinking creatively is a highly-valued skill in many technical careers. It can be easy to take what’s in front of you as fact and find the most practical solution. But most discoveries or inventions are from working outside the box to create something new, exciting, or interesting.

Creativity can go a long way, from smartphones to robotics, equations to scientific discoveries. This is especially true when you link creative thinking with social and collaborative skills, providing students with additional tools to help them go the extra mile.

4. Continued Curiosity

Curiosity isn’t a bad thing. Interest in a subject often makes us strive to do better and achieve more. This is the same in STEM fields as in any other area of education and industry. With most modern careers lasting two or so years, there’s plenty of room to remain curious about what you’re doing. With such a vast range of different sub-sciences, engineering fields, or versatile mathematical roles to work in, teaching students to be lifelong learners and enthusiastic about what they do should be a key teaching point. By pushing themselves to innovate, learn, and keep curious, STEM students can set themselves up for success in the future from a young age.

5. Greater Flexibility

In the modern world, it’s not very often that things standstill. This is especially the case in STEM fields, where new technologies, inventions, and theories can transform the landscape of an industry in a single day. Flexibility will prove incredibly valuable to students if they want to adapt to such a fast-paced market. Not to mention, it provides children with the discipline they need to further their knowledge and improve their skills based on the environment around them. In a STEM workplace, that discipline is vital.

With STEM rapidly growing as one of the world’s largest career markets, providing your students with the tools and skills they need to succeed is of great importance. For students who are more technically inclined, the ability to grow into skills and knowledge that suits them and offers them a different career path can give them more chances for success. And for those students fewer STEM-inclined, the discipline and abilities the field can provide are infinitely transferable across countless industries. Focus on soft skills and practical insight, as well as book learning, and success will come easy to your class.

Do you focus on STEM in your classroom?