What works best when teaching STEM?

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There are nine principles you should always try to apply in STEM education

To increase student engagement and achievement, STEM education in the classroom needs to reflect what's happening in STEM's exciting fields outside the classroom.

There are 9 principles for teaching STEM effectively. Not every principle will be appropriate in every situation, but each will provide strong guidance. Many of the principles go well together, for example, equipping and empowering teachers to be confident in using inquiry-based learning.

Principle What is it? Why is this important? Examples
Use inquiry-based learning Inquiry-based learning is an education approach that focuses on investigation and problem-solving. Students learn key STEM and life skills through inquiry-based learning: social interaction, exploration, argumentation, comfort with failure Build active learning into teaching practices through problem-based scenarios to encourage students to think critically.
Solve real-world problems Students tackle real-world STEM problems from industry and the community. Demonstrates relevance of STEM; can enhance student motivation and interest and highlight career opportunities. Partner with a local business and get students to work on a project that solves a real problem to see what they come up with.
Teach integrated STEM learning Integrated STEM learning combines the subject matter of two or more STEM subjects into a joint learning experience. Supports cross-disciplinary STEM skills; can enhance student interest. You can teach Science using an Engineering process (design-based learning).
Equip and empower teachers Equipping and empowering teachers means providing them with the right resources (e.g. high-quality professional learning opportunities, up-to-date technology) and skills to teach best practice STEM education. Teachers have the greatest influence on in-school achievement and engagement in STEM education. Connect a STEM teacher with a STEM mentor from a local business.
Create partnerships between schools, industry and community Schools, businesses and other organisations create STEM education initiatives to improve student outcomes. Exposes students to the workplace, inspires enthusiasm about STEM and enhances and complements curriculum. Choose some partners to work with on a STEM problem. Reach out to schools, industry, museums, local councils and government.
Engage parents and families Encourage parents and guardians to be active in their children's education. Improves aspiration, enrolment, achievement and belief in importance of STEM education. Invite parents and families to a STEM exhibition day to show them all the exciting things students are working on.
Use technology as an enabler Selective use of technology to support high-quality teaching and learning. Accelerates student learning, increases confidence and ability in using technology. Get students to program a technology instead of showing them what something does.
Differentiate for different levels Learning is tailored to the needs and abilities of individual students. Supports all students' needs, regardless of starting point. Assess student capability formally and informally so lessons can be tailored.
Link STEM education to 21st century learning STEM education is intentionally linked to the development of 21st century skills such as critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. 21st century skills are highly valuable for students' future careers. Encourage teamwork and healthy debate. Let students 'play' with their STEM subject matter.