June 17, 2019

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Making: A New Approach to STEM Education

Submitted by: Kathryn Nash

Posted: Sep 16, 2015 – 06:00 AM EST

Series: Education for a Sustainable Future

Tags: education, stem, jobs, sustainability

 
Nash

This is the most recent article in our series "Education for a Sustainable Future". For more articles, go to http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/86-education-for-a-sustainable-future/posts

As a Fortune 500 IT consulting and services company with a diverse workforce of more than 218,000 people worldwide, Cognizant has a vested interest in education.  We believe that investing in the power of learning is not only a business imperative--it’s also the right thing to do.   And, we view education, and particularly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education, as the fundamental sustainability issue of our time; finding and implementing solutions to poverty, health issues and climate change will require a highly educated, STEM-literate population.

Investing in traditional education alone won’t meet the demands of future jobs or prepare the next generation for success.  Pace of change quickens daily as new technologies transform how people think, work, and play. We no longer live in an Industrial Economy -- we are firmly implanted in the Knowledge Economy, or what some call the Era of Digital Business.  No one can predict with certainty what the future holds for the millennial workers of this “digital generation,” but we do know that the skills learned today will not be relevant forever. There will be demand for new competencies, just as this era of emerging social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies has changed demands on today’s workforce.

How can we invest in education to ensure future generations of life-long learners? Cognizant’s Making the Future education initiative, launched in 2011, is making great strides in accomplishing that goal.  Inspired by the Maker Movement, the initiative emphasizes the “doing” of projects, encouraging collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and risk-taking by grade school through high school age learners across socio-economic backgrounds.  In the after-school, in-school and summer programs we sponsor, kids are building things using electronics, open-source micro-controllers like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, digital fabrication tools like CNC routers and 3-D printers, and programming languages like Scratch.  Others are working with digital music and hydroponics.  As hands and minds work in tandem, failures become opportunities, risks become rewards and inspiration becomes motivation.   Stimulating intellectual curiosity among these youth creates a foundation that can be a lifelong motivator for learning. 

And, there are strong arguments for incorporating Making into every teacher’s toolbox.  Making as a pedagogy has several attributes, among them:

  • Hands-on, project- and design-based learning approaches are more consistent with the cognitive processes and learning styles we attribute to the millennial generation and younger.
  • These approaches spark creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and other 21st century learning skills.  They “pull” kids into STEM disciplines by generating interest and confidence, rather than pushing them to “do better in math and science.”
  • Making, with its emphasis on “do it yourself” and “do it with others” projects, provides a strong community and supporting philosophy that inspires creative learning and can appeal to both girls and boys across socio-economic backgrounds.

We must all keep challenging to ensure innovative approaches – like Making - can help spark transformative shifts in education and better equip future generations with the knowledge, skill and intellectual curiosity to succeed.

Today’s inspiration is tomorrow’s innovation.  Let’s make the future together.

This is the most recent article in our series "Education for a Sustainable Future". For more articles, go to http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/86-education-for-a-sustainable-future/posts

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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