STEM in Toronto Schools Curriculum
STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is an education program. STEM in Toronto schools aims to educate children on all the four subjects mentioned above by taking an interdisciplinary and applied approach. It doesn’t mean teaching the four subjects separately but integrating them so that children have an idea of how these work in the real-life world.
Canadian schools started incorporating STEM right from 2015-2016.
Importance of STEM in Toronto Schools
STEM is viewed as an important way of preparing students as it improves student enthusiasm and engagement. STEM has proved to be beneficial for the teachers as well as it improved teacher collaboration and teaching practices. The implementation of STEM has enhanced professional growth and improved collaboration among schools as well.
STEM jobs are considerably in the high salary range. So making this a part of the curriculum will prepare the students more for a competitive job market.
Incorporating STEM in Classrooms
Incorporating STEM has been a long-going process. It has not been many years since the introduction of STEM and its implementation process in classrooms is still evolving.
Pre-implementation and Planning
STEM is in all schools across Toronto as a part of Toronto District School Board Research Series. Teachers and administrators are part of this implementation process. Many teachers volunteered as a part of the model school initiative.
Teachers and administrators prepared and learned for STEM teaching through co-learning, lead teachers, and providing release time. Given enough time, teachers were able to prepare themselves in advance for the STEM initiative.
Teacher/Administrator Planning and Collaboration
Administrators were asked to provide time to the teachers so that they could collaborate and co-plan. Collaboration took place with the help of professional learning techniques and STEM coaches and it also involved co-learning with students. Both teachers and administrators had a lot of opportunities to co-plan, collaborate, and coordinate activities. But more such opportunities are required for proper implementation. School administrations have typically been very supportive and so have brought onboard STEM coaches and industry veterans. For example, the Glen Ames public school had astronaut Jeremy Hansen visit students and commemorate a stamp honoring their space achievements. He also interacted with the school robotics club.
Support Provided for STEM in Toronto Schools
Funding was the biggest form of support provided by the Canadian system. Others included the technology required to implement the STEM strategy for training and learning. This includes laboratories, such as the robotics lab or a coding lab. Almost all schools are putting together a student robotics team that can compete in robotics challenges taking place across the world.
The participation from the tech industry has been a significant driver. Schools are actively engaging with companies to foster interest and to inspire students at an early age. The Bishop Strachan School in Toronto organized a blockchain coding camp with the help of a tech company that resulted in their students building some very impressive apps over a short duration of time. Blockchain is a new and emerging technology in the industry and seeing school kids getting familiar with something so new shows how promising such events can really be. Some companies have also come forward to offer free courses in STEM to inspire kids. For example, companies like Google Canada have organized coding marathons and events for school kids, while others like Cisco and Microsoft have mentored students and launched free online courses.
There is still a long way to go and there is a need for additional support, financial resources, advanced technology, professional learning opportunities, and more industry collaboration. Parents can help develop STEM literacy in their kids by investing in coding classes and allowing their children to explore and learn about more STEM-related concepts.