Demystifying Data Science and how it connects to STEM Education [2/2]

"STEM Education isn't about drilling a set-in-stone set of skills in students. The principle of STEM Education lies in giving students the tools they need to discover, learn and develop solutions independently - thus nurturing their inquisitive, analytical and problem-solving minds."

Do you remember the first phone you had? If you’re anywhere near my age or older, it was probably a Nokia with a 12-key keypad. Fast forward, Steve Jobs introduces the first iPhone. And now, here we are, in a world where smartphones are now an essential part of our lives - mini computers we carry around for a multitude of uses. Technology continues to grow at a pace we can barely keep up with - how, then, can we prepare ourselves and our children to be future-ready?


Many now-coveted jobs were unheard of two to three decades ago: data miners, user-experience designers and big data analysts are just some to list. We can never be completely sure of what’s to come - uncertainty is the only constant in an ever-evolving world. 65% of students entering primary school now will work in jobs that don’t even exist yet. As educators, the best thing we can do to prepare the children of our future for careers in a technology-driven world is to equip them with a strong foundation in STEM and other adaptable skills.



Digital Fitness


A key feature of STEM education involves the incorporation of technology in pedagogy. Lessons are carried out online or through the use of digital devices, familiarising students with usage, design and applications of technology. The students might be designing graphics, 3D printing their prototypes, developing an app or even coding a web page. Developing a community of youth that are digitally ‘fit’ is becoming increasingly important because no matter what career your child decides to pursue, chances are, their industry will be digitized in some aspect. Look at publication as one - the print industry is no longer as booming as it used to be, many choosing to shift to digital platforms to increase reach and stay relevant.


I had a chat with a few friends in the computer science and cybersecurity industries recently, and they voiced that the need for lifelong learning can often be a deterrent for those interested in these career paths. However, they believe that once students see the opportunities that tech opens up, the interest will spur them on to explore it further. Developing digitally-fit youth helps to instil attitudes of growth and continuous learning, clearly an important mindset needed in the future workforce who will have to continually adapt to fast-moving tech advancements.




Data Analysis and Data Science in STEM education


STEM Education isn't about drilling a set-in-stone set of skills in students. The principle of STEM Education lies in giving students the tools they need to discover, learn and develop solutions independently - thus nurturing their inquisitive, analytical and problem-solving minds. STEM education encourages students to explore their creativity and critical thinking, while collaborating in class (by working on projects together) helps to develop their interpersonal skills. All of these skills will be carried forward in their careers, enhancing their quick-thinking and adaptability in a fast-paced industry where these skills are not just in demand, but crucial for their progress.


Data collection and data analysis are critical aspects of STEM education. Students learn how to obtain, collect, sort and analyze data while taking part in open-ended research projects. It results in deeper conceptual learning about the topic of investigation, which enables the students to learn about how to make good arguments based upon evidence. This builds a foundational understanding of data analysis and the processes involved in data science.


Like I mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, many careers in tech require workers to have a good groundwork in data extraction & processing. From big data to data science, machine learning and more, we’ve talked about the numerous ways our lives today have changed - and will continue to change - through advances in information technology. We can only speculate how much further these ‘bits’ will take us. Knowing that the future ahead is uncertain, what will you do to prepare your kids for what’s to come?


Leaving you with some big reflection points,


Zubaidah


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