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Has online learning given Stem subjects a boost?

In this podcast, experts explain how the use of technology in lessons is encouraging pupils to consider science careers

Tes Editorial

How use of technology is engaging school pupils in Stem subjects

In recent years Stem education has struggled to attract enough new teachers and has failed to appeal to a diverse range of students.

But with the increased use of technology in schools, and the newfound prominence of scientists and engineers brought about by the pandemic, could a career in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) have taken on a new appeal?

Tes spoke to two Stem specialists about why these subjects have previously struggled to resonate with learners and asked them to explain what the past 18 months, and the surge in the use of technology, have done to the way they approach their lessons.

According to Kemi Oloyede, a science teacher based in Dubai and founder of the Young Black Teachers Network, the use of technology can help students to see Stem subjects in a new light.

“Students are using technology a lot more and it’s a nice way to engage them,” she says.

“[Previously] they’ve seen science or technology as something abstract – it’s not something they can relate to. But if you’re using technology every day, you’re seeing the impact that it plays in your everyday life.”

Using technology to boost engagement in Stem subjects

Kimberly Elms, principal at Livingstone Academy in Bournemouth, has led tech innovation projects at multiple schools, and thinks the subjects have previously suffered from an image problem.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions with parents in terms of what you do in technology and what computer science is all about,” says Elms.

“So I think that's something that we should be very purposeful in reframing, not only for our students but for our parents, who can often have quite an influence on their own children's identities and their choices that they make in what they do, not only in school but as a career.”

Listen to the full conversation on the Tes podcast: 

 

By using technology in the Stem classroom, both teachers feel they’ve increased engagement with their pupils.

“When teaching about cells, I use a simulator,” says Oloyede. “Students can zoom in and zoom out to see the relative sizes of different cells or different organisms in comparison to the universe that we live in.”

Elms thinks the integration of technology not only increases engagement but also sets students up with the necessary skills to pursue a career beyond the classroom.

“Our whole-school model is built around the idea that technology and digital tools are embedded in every learning experience,” Elms explains. "We're trying to use real-world, up-to-date ubiquitous technology with our kids. It's exciting to see them experience the world like this.”

This podcast is sponsored by BBC Bitesize. BBC Bitesize is launching more than 100 new guides linked to the key stage 3 curriculum, covering English, history, geography, biology, chemistry and physics. They are designed to support students' progress through their key stage 3 journey. You can find more by visiting www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize and clicking on "secondary"

Tes Editorial

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