From a young age, schools are gearing up their students for successful future careers, believing that children are never too young to begin learning those all-important skills in science and technology. Even in the foundation years, these subjects are routinely included.
“Young learners learn best by doing, and science, technology, reading, engineering and mathematics (STREAM) is all about experiential learning,” says Brian Gray, Principal, Springdales School, Dubai. “Integration of science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) is crucial in the early years. It allows our 21st-century learners to think critically, collaborate with their peers, and participate in active, hands-on learning. STREAM is an integral part of our classroom activities right across the foundation stage. It provides our learners with the freedom to make choices and use their imagination to explore, build, investigate, create and solve problems.
“Our STREAM lessons are methodically planned within the classroom setting, as a part of project work and in our dedicated STREAM lab.”
Meanwhile, at the German International School Dubai (DISD), children in kindergarten and beyond are being prepared for future careers in science and technology with experiments, competitions and field trips that undoubtedly grab their attention.
DISD Principal Michael Lummel says, “German engineering spirit is one of the six pillars in our DISD mission statement. We aspire STEM excellence from nursery school to the German International Abitur Diploma. We achieve this through explorative, research-based learning, competitive culture and intensive contacts with research institutes and companies. Thereby, we instil a spirit of research and entrepreneurial spirit in our students.
“Our systematic approach to STEM starts with eye-opening experiments in kindergarten. Primary students visit the education laboratories of Henkel Forscherwelt on a regular basis to be immersed in fascinating chemical experiments. Four of our students have reached the German federal finals in the renowned Jugend präsentiert STEM competition. Three have reached the final round of the German Mathematical Olympiad.”
It is not only through practical means that STEM subjects are being taught and promoted in schools. Mentoring encourages students to be fledgling scientists, and some of this is targeted primarily at girls to encourage their interest in the subject.
Lummel says, “A female German scientist is mentoring many DISD girls in their individual field of interest for one year in the incredible CyberMentor programme.”
Learning STEM subjects has come a long way over the years. Schools across the UAE are creating exciting curricula to ensure students have a varied and interesting learning experience.
“We use many different learning tools for science and maths to ensure the lesson’s learning objectives are taught well and allow the students to learn new things independently and interdependently,” says Patrick Affley, Principal, Dove Green Private School.
“Furthermore, students are regularly engaged in projects and practical investigations in maths and science using frameworks that allow them to generate their questions and ideas with opportunities to reflect on and communicate their findings to a wider audience.
“Most importantly, these projects and investigations are fun and meaningful for the students, which motivates them to develop a love of learning.”
Certainly, developing a love of STEM subjects makes all the difference. Now, thanks to innovative ways of learning, the UAE is set to witness a new generation of budding scientists who are well equipped for the exciting future that awaits them. ■