STEAM education can lead to innovation and creativity

There is a lot to talk about the unprecedented challenges and impacts the Covid-19 crisis has put in front of us. Almost every sector has been hit hard, including children’s education too. The schools have been closed and children are learning from home. With all the daily routines and activities disrupted, it is easy to feel like a victim of the Covid-19 crisis. But there’s a silent hero that is bringing a change in the mindset of students, parents as well the teachers.

Amidst the novel Corona Virus crisis, many students are coming up with innovative and creative solutions in order to bring a change in the mindset of the society and minimise the damage and turn the situation into an opportunity. Yes, students are leveraging the STEAM skills in order to provide solutions to real-world problems by making the best use of their logical mindset, analytical and computational skills, cognitive approach etc.

STEAM and Innovation – Future Ready

STEAM Education is an interdisciplinary fusion of multiple fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) that aims to strengthen the core skills of the students and help them recognize their inner potential. The number of schools incorporating STEAM principles has increased exponentially in the past few years. According to a joint survey conducted by NITI Aayog and AIM, more than 6 million students have access to STEAM education facilities in their schools in India alone.

Right from the invention of the Wheel, Man has been continuously thriving. The thirst for development and upliftment of technology has never been stopped, and mankind continues to flourish through the advancement in technologies. Our educational system is tasked with preparing the next-gen leaders to succeed in life. But somewhere, we had been failing in incorporating critical-thinking skills and an innovative mindset in our children.

STEAM Education supports students to understand the fundamental laws of nature in a multi-disciplined way, transforming the mind of the student in the form of centralized innovation, and fostering their ability to solve problems. It gives students the right tools and approaches to explore new and creative ways of problem-solving, tinkering, pattern recognitions, and adjoining multiple domains. Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic rise in the patents filed by the students. A joint venture by NITI Aayog and AIM is promoting students to file patents and providing a workspace in the schools to quench the thirsts of the students for Innovation and Tinkering.

To tackle the negative impacts of Covid-19, students are taking the charge to save the mankind. Many students have come up with “Automatic Hand Sanitizers”, to prevent the spread of Corona Virus. Young minds are also creating awareness through their coding skills, and developing animated stories and games to create awareness in the society.

Early age Entrepeneurs – All Thanks to STEAM education

STEAM education in India is promoting the culture of Start-ups and entrepreneurship right from the early age. The government is taking many initiatives, including the ATL Marathon contest, where the students have to come up with the solutions to tackle the existing problems in the society. In 2018, around 5000 students participated in the competition where more than 1400 submissions were received. The Top 50 teams were called in for a 15 day Internship at IBM Bengaluru Campus, where all the innovators learned the essentials of entrepreneurship using

STEAM education skills. STEAM education is motivating students to adapt an innovative mindset and come up with creative solutions. The industries are leaving no stone unturned and are providing platforms for students to showcase their innovative skills. Competitions, Online Hackathons and Challenges are being organized from time to time, where students participate and thrive to create something innovative. Even in this lockdown period, students are making the best use of the time and are coming up with innovative solutions. A student designed and developed a prototype of a 3D printed facial mask to combat the novel virus. Many students have even developed minimalistic designs of Automatic Hand Sanitizers, and industries are taking forward their innovations to make it available for the masses.

According to PWC’s Innovation Benchmark 2017, 54% of innovating companies struggle to bridge the gap between innovation strategy and business strategy. This is the reason why big giants like Cisco, PepsiCo, Microsoft, and Google own initiatives to encourage STEAM education and skills development globally. In a survey conducted by the Education Commission of the States, STEAM jobs are likely to grow up by 13%, whereas all the other jobs will grow only by 9%. The hike is certain because many industries are embracing the concept of STEAM education and the need for innovative programs is rapidly increasing. The industries are focusing on long-term strategies, by hiring candidates with potential STEAM skills, which is far better than training and educating the workforce on occupation-specific skills.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (C.B.S.E) is also taking measures in promoting skill-based subjects, realising the uncapped potential of STEAM education. The Board will offer a choice to the students to opt from nine subjects which cover a wide variety of 21 st century skills including Artificial Intelligence, Design Thinking etc. STEAM education will play a crucial role in building the right mindset and providing an ecosystem for students to hone their innovation and creativity skills.

In this rapidly changing world, we need more innovators, tinkerers, and creators to provide sustainable development and better future alternatives. STEAM education is a proven model of accelerating the mindset right in the direction of crucial skills like Logical thinking, Computational thinking, Analytical skills, Critical thinking, and Creativity. All these skills put together will lead towards an innovative mindset, which will help students to have a better understanding of past and present cultures and aesthetics, moral values, and human nature, which in turn lead to progressive social development also. STEAM education teaching is not to impart content-based knowledge, but to develop students’ problem-solving ability and looking up for innovative solutions as an end goal.

(Author Anurag Gupta and Rajeev Tiwari are Co-founders at STEMROBO Technologies. Views expressed here are personal.)

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