Taking STEM Education to the Schoolyard

Jun 12, 2019

The world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is rapidly evolving in today’s education sector. What used to be taught clinically as part of separate curriculums is now getting immersed together in a hands-on, experiential approach to understanding STEM. As students grow throughout their educational experience, it’s important that they develop a positive relationship with learning. Creative problem solving that teaches students to invest in discovering the answer to complicated questions instead of memorizing them is training an entire generation of young people to think critically about the future.

Most students enrolled in a United Way of the National Capital Area Community School are exposed to STEM in their class or after school programs. The enriched curriculum seeks to methodically empower at-risk students with the knowledge to deconstruct complex issues in a step-by-step process. Additionally, the learning environment is fun, with lessons taught through experimentation and trial and error. The process-focused approach encourages students to sit in uncertainty while they dismantle problems and equations from the inside out.

United Way NCA recently partnered with Airbus of Americas to engage at-risk-youth in a day of learning focused on STEM. The STEM in the Schoolyard event convened 25 different vendors to bring unique and diverse hands-on workshops for 100 middle school students in attendance. Thirty Airbus staff volunteers partnered with students as they navigated the enriching workshops such as flight simulation, rocket construction, robotics, and cosmetics.

“I think what they saw is that STEM is fun,” shared Linda Herbert, Head of Leadership Inclusion and Cultural Evolution at Airbus shares. “STEM is working with your hands, it’s not about sitting behind a desk working out mathematical equations.”

The entire event was underscored by the excitement of discovery, as students celebrated launching their rockets in the air or getting their autonomous drawing robot to sketch a shape. Not only are students gaining experience for the job market, but they are also taking ownership of learning and acknowledging their achievements through a dedicated process. Events like STEM in the Schoolyard are just one way that helps to even the academic playing field for our most vulnerable students across the region. It gives students the gift of discovering the powerful potential in themselves – a gift that can help them see the possibilities in their future.

To learn more about STEM in the Schoolyard or other opportunities to get involved, visit unitedwaynca.org/education

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