Science, technology, engineering and math are the industries that help to move our society forward and there are just not enough workers to fill the demand for these positions. There is a need for society to increase the number of innovative professionals and this can only be achieved if one gets apt education which not only engages but also gives the students an interactive learning experience.
With the opportunity to learn how to design, implement and evaluate STEM education in the classrooms, basic knowledge and skills are needed to integrate robotics and 3D printing into STEM education in a successful manner. Teachers and students are both experiencing the pressure this shift creates. Students are under more pressure than ever to grasp a greater depth and breadth in STEM learning quickly, while teachers are challenged to explain complex concepts immersively and thoroughly in less time. This crunch has created a need for fresh innovation in education that will make it easier for teachers to instill innovation competence in students.
A consistently acknowledged flaw of STEM learning is reliance on theory and lack of concrete experiences. To mitigate this, we need to create a holistic approach for student learnings. This will create an engaging mindset for authentic content and hands-on STEM activities in which they will use technological tools, equipment, and procedures in innovative ways to solve design challenges by working as a team and individually throughout the sessions.
With Virtual Learning and 3D internet technologies, the abstract becomes real. Three-dimensional visualization brings STEM ideas to life — abstract concepts like gravity and the Big Bang Theory become experiences to be explored. This is the main aspect that is captured by educational institutions to make learning better and more interactive.
Virtual Learning allows students to step into 3D interactive environments based on STEM ideas. It puts students inside of their subjects. On the other hand, learning that is 3D-based is the STEM conduit, the mediator that bridges the gap between the powerful abstract world of STEM ideas and the “tangible” world of the student. It gives students context to build mental models and better understand STEM ideas. Virtual Learning is the empirical medium that transforms ideas and theory into experience and understanding.
Conceptual learning is the solution that deepens understanding while developing creativity, leadership, creative self-efficacy, energy, risk propensity and ambiguous problem-solving. It is all activated through hands-on experience and real-world application in an environment where mistakes are easily fixed and curiosity is the guide.
This conceptual and exploratory type of a layered, experiential learning environment helps students learn twice as fast. Teachers are empowered to use the 3D simulations to coach students to go deeper and better understand the nuances of complex concepts in more concrete and tangible ways. Each lesson becomes an engaging journey instead of a boring lecture.
Companies like ours have now introduced this international learning and other best practices to India for science and mathematics for school students. This results in excellent engagement, rekindled curiosity and ultimately, a deeper, more efficient learning for the entire class, developing the six components of innovation competence in each student that will shape them into tomorrow’s innovators.
(Kashyap Mankad, ex-Group Director ISRO, Founding Member and Consulting Technical Director, Saras-3D, Inc.)