STEM learning builds 21st century skills for students and teachers

STEM learning builds 21st century skills for students and teachers 1
Students showing excitement during a STEM activity under Ms. Nga’s guidance

“Teaching is not merely about providing knowledge to students. It must answer the question of what students can do with that knowledge in the future. I have realized that STEM can help,” shared Ms. Dau Van Nga, a physics, technology, and informatics teacher at Xuan La Secondary School in Tay Ho district, home to Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake.

Ms. Nga started her teaching career 17 years ago, and there were several times when she considered quitting due to challenges with the workload, curriculum, teaching environment and even, the students. However, the desire to make a positive change for future generations helped her persevere. Her desire to share her love of science with students kept her inspired, which led her to discover an integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching approach based on connections between the various subjects and their application to everyday life.

“Throughout the past 17 years, I have never stopped learning and trying out new teaching methods for science subjects. It is fortunate that I got to know about Kenan Foundation Asia and the Boeing Technology-Enhanced Learning project through the school; the project provided us with science content knowledge, systematic and proven high-impact teaching approaches, and practical teaching experiences in STEM subjects. After the training, senior education advisors and master teachers provided us with immense support, including hands-on coaching and timely assistance in class until we were confident enough to demonstrate our STEM projects to our students.”

According to Ms. Nga, the key to positive change through STEM learning is her students. This semester, she applied STEM and project-based learning approaches to all grade 6 classes at her school. The results have been impressive. She observed that the students have shown increased confidence, excitement, and learning in all the classes. They now work harder in groups to design their own projects, exchange ideas, and collaborate with each other to follow the enhanced project-based learning (e-PBL) curriculum developed by Kenan and Boeing. The process helps teachers build foundational 21st century skills in students and strengthen science and math learning and application. This helps students fulfill their potential by developing their creativity and critical thinking skills.

STEM learning builds 21st century skills for students and teachers 2
Ms. Nga providing feedback on the Boeing Technology Enhance Learning project support at a stakeholder meeting in December 2020

“Among all the professional development programs I have attended, Kenan and Boeing’s is the only one to provide post-training follow-up to teachers by highly experienced and dedicated education experts. My students’ love for science subjects has significantly developed and they now better understand how STEM skills can be applied in day-to-day life through exploration, identifying problems, and testing solutions. The students not only build their 21st century skills, but they also help me to build my 21st century teaching skills. Change starts with us in the classroom.” Ms. Nga added.

After attending Kenan’s training, teachers formed groups to develop their own STEM projects for feedback from master teachers. As one of the group leaders, Ms. Nga worked with other teachers to revise a STEM-e-PBL teaching project called “The Stone Catapult”, and she also helped a junior teacher pilot the project with students at their school. When the demonstration class was conducted, it was attended by the school director and representatives from the Tay Ho District Bureau of Education and Training. The Bureau representatives highly appreciated the work that was achieved under Ms. Nga’s leadership. Mr. Bui Thanh Liem, a specialist in charge of the Natural Science Division in the Bureau noted at a high-level stakeholder meeting, “Ms. Nga and her colleagues have done a good job in initiating and pioneering STEM and e-PBL content in their classrooms. We would like to express our sincere thanks to Kenan and hope that more teachers can gain similar benefits from this project in the coming years.”

Since 2010, the Technology Enhanced Learning project has been a long-term partnership between Kenan and Boeing and governments in the Southeast Asian region to support hundreds of teachers as part of an effort to create critical thinkers, increase science literacy, and foster the next generation of innovators.

Kenan Asia

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