Jobs in the computer science field are the top source of new wages in America, and a quarter of all jobs are now “highly digitalized.” Twice as many Americans use computing in their jobs, with half of these positions in non-STEM fields.
Yet, only 25 percent of schools across the country offer a computer science class with coding or programming as part of the curriculum. It’s more important than ever to incorporate STEM and STEAM principles into the classroom to prepare our students for the workforce. Kids are already immersed in the world of technology, but it’s important to incorporate STEM principles into the classroom to arm students with the skills they need to succeed in the job landscape of the future.
In our classrooms, we use a variety of tools to teach the values of STEAM education, including Sphero, the technology company utilizing play as a powerful teacher with its product line of robotic balls and other app-enabled gadgets that inspire STEAM learning.
Now, with the evolution of art in STEAM, educators have the opportunity to structure their coursework in non-traditional ways that create excitement and fun around learning.
There is an art form to teaching STEAM principles in creative ways outside of writing out math equations that make kids excited to go to school and learn. Taking something students have designed and encouraging them to use their artistic skills to create can help them learn and grow in new ways.
It’s much easier than most educators think to incorporate STEAM into their lesson plans. My best advice is to just give it a try. Learning STEAM principles alongside students is a great way to lead through example, and it helps teachers develop better relationships with their students. Finding a great network of other educators, like my own personal network of other Sphero Heroes, allows me to connect and share ideas on how to best teach STEAM to our students.
However, it’s important to incorporate STEAM into the classroom with a healthy amount of skepticism. Jumping into new opportunities like STEAM is exciting, but educators should be mindful of the purpose behind what they teach and how they teach it. It usually helps to have a process in place, but with STEAM, don’t model lessons. Rather, give students guidelines on activities that allow them to think outside the box and learn to problem solve on their own.
The activities we use in my classroom with Sphero all enforce the knowledge that play is a powerful teacher of STEAM principles. Here is a list of some of my favorite ways to use Sphero in the classroom to get your students on board with STEAM.
1. Playground days
On playground days, we bring ramps and other obstacles out just to get kids used to driving the Sphero and engaging with the Sphero EDU app; plus it’s fun for the kids. They come up with their own ideas for races and other games, like tag.
Battlebots is a crowd favorite in which kids design battle armor for their Spheros and test them out in our Battlebot Arena. The goal is for kids to knock their opponent out of the arena.