The SAM Blog

Inspire Students with Real-World Learning in STEM Education

Inspire Students with Real-World Learning in STEM Education

An inspired STEM curriculum helps develop students’ critical thinking skills, encourages teamwork, and ignites curiosity. 

While passionate educators are clamoring to increase STEM learning, some students struggle to see the importance of real-world connections in a STEM or STEAM education. We’ve all heard the timeless complaint: “When am I going to use math in real life?” 

This common combat to STEM learning can be eliminated by teaching through real-world connections in the classroom. 

Why Focus on Real-World STEM Applications? 

Tackle genuine problems through STEM learning 

Engage students’ empathy and excitement through real and relatable problem solving. Move away from dull equations and rote memorization, which will leave students feeling bored or uninspired. 

By introducing real-world concepts to your STEM curriculum, students can brainstorm and problem-solve for subjects that they feel truly invested in. 

Boost understanding rather than memorization

Plenty of students can recall their multiplication tables, but how many can explain in-depth what role each number plays in the problem? 

Encourage students to understand a concept, not just remember it. When students work through real-world problems, they gain a more rounded perspective on complex STEM subject matter. 

Don’t expect a simple “yes” or “no” answer 

“Yes” and “no” answers can limit student creativity and discourage out-of-the-box thinkers. One of the most beloved benefits of implementing a STEM curriculum is enhanced creative thinking or ingenuity. 

When we think of the world’s infamous scientists and mathematicians, we talk about their discoveries, inventions, or advancements in their field. Nothing new is learned from checking all the same boxes as everyone that came before us. No bold invention was inspired without asking lots and lots of questions. 

Encourage this type of interdisciplinary thinking with authentic real-world applications. We all know that real-world problems are far from black and white. 

By getting students to ask questions and teaching them it’s okay to be wrong, you’re inspiring a new generation of bright and brilliant minds. 

How To Bring Real-World Connections To Your STEM Curriculum

Get students involved in a community project

Bring their real-world to the classroom through community projects and involvement. Many students already understand the importance of community through their friends and family. Giving back through a community project is a good way to activate students’ empathy, and help them appreciate the positive impact they can have. 

You could have your students come up with some local problems to solve, or you could ask parents and other community members to pitch in suggestions. 

Some ideas include local trail maintenance or doing graphic design work for a local nonprofit. 

Use local issues and references

Solve some close-to-home design issues, such as local transportation systems or even neighborhood planning. Although you could potentially use a fictional or far-away city to learn about urban infrastructure, using students’ own homes could increase their connection to the project. 

Perhaps you live somewhere that’s undergoing road construction to decrease heavy traffic. Or what about that one spot in town where the sewage always overflows, and it still hasn’t been fixed? Incorporate these close-to-home issues into your lesson plans, and let students brainstorm possible solutions. 

You can talk about why these problems haven’t been solved yet, and what it might take to solve them. From water pressure and erosion to blueprints and budgeting, using urban infrastructure to come up with real-world STEM applications is bound to keep students engaged. 

Get outside

Take the classroom outside and work through some pressing environmental issues. It can be difficult for students to conceptualize STEM concepts when they can’t see the cause or effect themselves. But what about when they can? 

Talking about today’s real environmental situation, from natural disasters to drops or rises in temperature, is an easy way to hook students. Not every student will understand the significance of complex scientific theory, but most students have an opinion when it’s over 100 degrees outside. 

By using a relatable subject such as the environment, you can introduce more complicated STEM learning concepts in an easy-to-understand format. 

Start making real-world connections today 

Ready to integrate STEAM into everyday learning? Check out our STEAM and coding solutions for kindergarten, elementary, and middle school students. 

By incorporating real-world connections into your STEM or STEAM curriculum, you’re promoting so much more than just the foundations of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. You’re helping students look at their learning material through a practical, real-world lens. 

Not only do real-world applications in STEM encourage critical thinking and creative minds, it also helps students to care deeply. 

Inspire the next generation of thinkers to extraordinary heights with these engaging real-world STEM applications. Your students will thank you.