This summer I was fortunate enough to attend a 5-day training in preparation for my first year as a Dayton Regional STEM Fellow for the Dayton Regional STEM Center. Two of the days were spent learning about how to design a quality STEM lesson using the engineering design process, inquiry, and backwards design. I’m excited to share these resources with you in another post.
At first, I was unsure about the usefulness of these tours – what could a high tech laser tell me about teaching a biology lesson? I could not have been more wrong – what I experienced in these tours will forever change how I view not only STEM education, but education in general.
At each tour, we got a chance to see the innovative research being conducted, but we also spent valuable time speaking with the engineers and scientists about their daily work. Some questions we asked were, “What are the most important skills you use every day?” “How often do you get to ‘just brainstorm’ about solving a problem?” “How often do you have to do technical writing?” “What do you love most about your job?”
Across the board, their answers consistently stated the following:
- Communication and collaboration with a team is the most important part of their job
- The best teams are diverse, open to new ideas, and flexible in their hierarchy of roles
- Using critical thinking skills to solve problems happens every day
- Their job is open book – the most important skill is HOW to find information and HOW to use it (they don’t have tests each week about the research they are performing)
- Most earned a degree in a related field, but not necessarily the exact field they currently work in (much on the job training occurs)
I left these tours with an overwhelming desire to empower my students with these skills in my classroom. Education should be about student discovery, collaboration, and creation – not memorization and test-taking. Out students need to learn HOW to think, how to solve problems, and how to work in diverse groups.
How will you empower your students with these skills?