5 Things We Wish Learners Knew About STEM

The best way to get a learner interested in a specific subject area is to give them an accurate snapshot of what's involved.  Too often, people avoid what they don't know because it seems daunting or overly complicated.  Misunderstandings like these cost people the opportunity to explore things that are not only interesting, but enriching.  In the spirit of enticing learners who wouldn't ordinarily be willing to venture into STEM, here are 5 myths we'd like to dispel:
  • STEM is done by humans. The laws that govern the universe may be vast and complex, but real people have been unpacking them for centuries.  These people weren't only geniuses and prodigies either.  They were normal, everyday folk with problems that needed solving and the curiosity and drive to do something about it.  Some of them even did it when they were quite young.  You can do it too.
  • Even if you’re not interested in STEM as a career, you need to know about it in some way.  This is especially pertinent to technology.  If it’s going to be a big part of your life, you need to have some fundamental understanding of how it works and how it’s going to impact the way you think and act.
  • Studying STEM will mean you will make mistakes.  Things will break, malfunction, and sometimes fail to follow along with your hypotheses. Don’t measure your success as a STEM learner by the number of times you get things right immediately.  Even things that get screwed up can be valuable sources of information.
  • The history of STEM goes far beyond Europe and North America, and it includes a surprising number of women thinkers.  It takes some digging to find a richer, more diverse history of STEM, but it's there, and it's absolutely fascinating.
  • There’s a reason that STEM is becoming STEAM and STREAM.  Being an effective thinker means being a well-rounded thinker who appreciates ideas in general.  This means learning to communicate, to think critically and to be creative.  If you see arts and sciences as being polar opposites, you're going to miss out on a world of amazing intersections.  Some of the most amazing thinkers in the history of STEM have also had interests in arts and humanities.

Amy Leask is VP of Enable Education.