STEMmates is an initiative conceptualized by 3 parents, keen to encourage, cultivate and empower kids to remain curious, imaginative and passionate about the world they lived in – a world that is ever-evolving through disruption and transformation; where the combination of critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity is fuelling innovation that is becoming the mainstay for the jobs and economy of the future.
For this, the founders of STEMmates believed in the need to be forward-thinking in the way we educate children. The focus, as they understood it, was not so much what we teach children - but more the way we teach – that would determine the skills they acquire for life.
As leaders in Strategy and Development of Business and Technology, the 3 Dads were witnessing and experiencing first-hand how evolutions in technology were influencing the local - and global - job markets. The demand for jobs that have their foundations in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) was growing rapidly. And whilst the schools firmly have a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), as part of the flow-on effects of the July 2013 position paper by the Office of the Chief Scientist in Australia, a simple question needed answering: what can we do to further educate our kids in these subjects at home?
In answer to this question, they formed an opinion about the theory and practice of education, and how it influenced the growth of learners
The STEMmates Pedagogy
The approach to education can be drawn from a spectrum ranging from being instructor-led to one that's based on immersion. The latter is focussed on individuals in an interactive learning environment, where scenarios or situations are used to teach particular concepts, skills or techniques. The former is more direct, with the teacher making the decisions about the content and sequence of the learning.
Where the instructor-led approach places a focus and outcome on the teacher (instructor) imparting lesson objectives, the immersive learning sees the teacher step back to allow a student-led, discovery-based learning approach. In immersive learning, students are making the decisions under the guidance of the teacher, as they develop their knowledge and skills.
The current (traditional) educational approach has largely been instructor-led. And this has raised concerns as we evolve into the era that is driven by Industry 4.0.
Whilst the culmination of education is that it becomes the pathway to jobs and productivity (in addition to personal growth and development), as a result of progress, evolution and transformation within an industry, business and commerce, there is now a gap. The knowledge being derived from the current approach to education has resulted in a disconnect between what the current approach produces and what industry needs.
The founders of STEMmates want to help bridge this gap by striking a balance between the instructive and immersive ways of learning - by bringing the lessons derived from industrial progress, evolution and transformation to help kids contextualise what they are learning and why.
They looked to see if there could be a wider application of the theory, that effective education is achieved in situations where learners have meaningful experiences - through discovery, inquiry, active engagement, problem-solving and collaboration.
The STEMmates vision and mission is based on aligning and associating its courses and workshops with a wider context - to help cultivate curiosity, imagination and passion for problem-solving, analytical thinking, and the ability to work both independently as well as collaboatively.