Imagine a restaurant where waiters don’t talk to the kitchen staff. The customers get fed, but somehow they’ve gone out for pasta and come home with a belly full of curry. Now imagine a school where kids study all their subjects in complete isolation. They do an hour of Maths, then move on to an hour of Technology, and then Science. The students learn a lot, as intended, but they perhaps don’t make all the possible connections in their minds between the three subjects. Now, imagine a school where related disciplines are taught in an integrated way, so students learn to solve problems through a real-world lens (because in the real world, how often do you get to truly focus on one topic at a time?). The different fields talk to each other and work together, just as restaurant staff do to deliver a good customer experience. Welcome to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), at GEMS World Academy (GWA).
The STEM approach is used at GWA within a balanced and integrated curriculum because it provides practical, real-life purpose and context to solving challenges. Put simply, it answers the common student question: “Why do we need to learn this?” (Hands up who asked that question 17 times a day at school!) STEM focuses on the connections between the four disciplines, which helps students to understand how science, technology, engineering and maths are relevant to their lives rather than simply being another exam to study for. After all, in the real world, these four disciplines rely heavily on each other to sustain our society and keep things running safely and smoothly.
How does STEM look in practice? Basically, students access knowledge and skills from two or more disciplines to complete challenges. For example, they might use Sphero robots to tackle a golf-course challenge. They use maths to count shots and work out averages per game, then create tables and graphs to report back, and employ technology to connect and control the robots to present their findings about the golf course problem. It’s fair to say, it sounds just a tiny bit more interesting than burying your head in a textbook!
At GEMS World Academy, the STEM learning experiences are built into all grade levels in the Primary curriculum, and Secondary classes use STEM for planning interdisciplinary units and building problem-solving skills across many subject areas. It’s a great way for the passionate teachers at GWA to build upon the IB/IGCSE curriculum that they’re teaching in classrooms. The team at GWA believes that the diversity and breadth of learning offered by the STEM approach is crucial to the way students learn these days, and will set them up for success in the future. Who can argue with helping kids to explore and find answers to the questions they have about the world around them?
This post is sponsored by GEMS World Academy.