STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning has become a major focus of our schools, as it pervades every part of our lives and is essential in preparing children for the today's world. It is about learning how to think critically and evaluate information. How to apply knowledge, research and skills to problem solve. Rather than the traditional approach of separating subject areas and memorizing facts, it teaches children to embrace and integrate skills in all areas as they occur in real life. At CCNS, class projects such as Fire Fighters, Bridges and the Veterinarian's Office offer plenty of opportunity for this kind of thinking and problem-solving. Below, educator and author of The Project Approach, Sylvia Chard, writes on how well STEM and the Project Approach compliment one another:
"Children learn best when engaged in authentic and relevant activities. Two teaching approaches, project-based learning and STEM-based learning, hold to the common philosophy that true education inspires and motivates children to be lifelong learners. The Project Approach offers children open-ended experiences as the basis of the curriculum. STEM programs focus on expanding a child's interest in the science and math domains. What happens when these two methods are merged? A lot of potential for learning!
Since both approaches promote a holistic integration of the different subject areas, they naturally compliment each other. There are countless methods of infusing educational programs with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning, but often - particularly with older children - an overly structured curriculum artificially separates the different domains of study. The Project Approach provides a well-tested-and-tried method of incorporating all areas of learning under the umbrella of one inclusive, in-depth investigation or 'project.' This makes it a perfect method to adopt for increasing a child's STEM skills and knowledge."
(Sylvia Chard, author of The Project Approach, for Community Playthings)