STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is a form of study that focuses on learning to program technological devices, including coding. This field of study is highly portable and offers students all around the world the chance to increase their professional opportunities. In many cases, STEM study can greatly improve the quality of life for a student growing up in challenging circumstances.
Learning How to Learn
The process of coding in particular involves a great deal of “if-then” thinking. This method of thinking programs learners of all ages to think linearly, which can be applied to many fields. Even if someone who learns to code never gets a job in that industry, the ability to trace down an error with if-then thinking can make many aspects of life more logical and easier to manage.
Asking the Right Questions
STEM sciences offer a young student the chance to ask a lot of questions. The “why” of science is more open, while mathematics generally offers a linear method. A challenging math question is either right or not, while biology is more open and varied.
However, both fields offer a strong base for learning to ask the right questions. Why did one thing work one way while another experiment generated different results? What were the factors that contributed to a variety of results over time?
There is an unfortunate continuum in our culture that equates “incorrect” with “mistake” which quickly drifts toward “bad”. Instead, learners would do much better to get busy making mistakes, coming up with the wrong answer, and understanding the basis for the incorrect answer. Sometimes, the wrong result can begin a whole new project to study.
Prepare for Higher Education
The power of STEM is also critical to preparing children for more education later in life. The Girls Who Code founder promotes being brave enough to risk a mistake. Perfection can be fun, but it really teaches us very little over time.
A mistake when coding is an indication that something needs more attention and study. An error on a worksheet or a test should demonstrate the same need. A focus on getting everything right can lead some children to shy away from projects that could lead to a mistake, which can create a constantly shrinking learning methodology. Digging into the more difficult projects and fields requires a learner to get out there and fail. It doesn’t make them a failure.
Build a Society That Welcomes Scientific Ideas
Learning should be and can be a lot of fun. However, if we as a culture focus on avoiding the embarrassment of an error, we will shy away from fields that are full of chances to make a mistake. The loss of belief in the scientific process has been obvious and quite unfortunate since the beginning of 2020.
There are many who don’t understand the concept of variables when reviewing the science, particularly when it comes to possible projections. Projections in fields from climate change to virus spread have been treated with disdain by those who either do not understand or choose not to consider variables. There are few exact sciences. However, sciences from biology to meteorology can give us projections that are worth consideration by a culture that understands the variability of projections.
The more you know, the more you understand how little knowledge you have actually amassed. However, with STEM training, we can build a culture that is able to continue learning within the structure of if-then thinking, the knowledge that an error is not a crime, and the concept of variability when building projections. Our future is worth the effort to learn how to learn.