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  • Writer's pictureSuzi Corkhum

Why STEM?

As an educator who taught 4th grade for 33 years, I quickly learned that kids respond best when they are at the helm of their learning. As technologies were introduced over the years, I found myself in the learner's position, and embraced the ideas of trying out new technologies. I still remember the very first Apple computer in my first teaching role. It was 1991 in Spring, TX. We had one computer in a back room of our school library, and I often spent my time after school exploring and trying it out. A few years later I found myself in the role of Technology teacher, teaching keyboarding and exploring programs like Carmen San Diego and Oregon Trail. Students were enthralled with these experiences, showing me the need and importance of including technologies in my teaching.


Flash forward to my years of teaching in Cohasset, MA. While educational leaders were encouraging use of different technologies in our lessons, teachers were unsure of how to do so. Many didn't embrace these because they were not experts in using the technologies, but I made a decision to not let that be a barrier. At one point I wrote a grant for a device called Sphero, a small plastic round robotic device that taught coding. I had little coding experience, but I knew that I could be a learner right along side my students. It was amazing to see the enthusiasm and excitement as students embarked on these activities. But even more important, students learned critical skills like problem solving, collaboration, communication and perseverance. They applied mathematical and logical sequencing standards, and it stuck in their long term memory! One of the biggest lessons is this-teaching and learning CAN and SHOULD be messy! Making mistakes and analyzing what to do next is critical in the learning process. STEM based opportunities embrace these critical principles. We should provide these types of programs regularly and consistently for our children.

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