STEAM in Science Primary Training
Najwa Yassir, BSC, PhD, PGCE
Researchers at Khalifa University discovered last year that a worryingly large percentage of teachers in the UAE never received pedagogical training in STEM subjects, which include Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The teachers most in need of this training are Primary teachers, who, unlike their counterparts in Secondary, tend to be non-specialist in these subjects.
The recent move in the US then the UK from STEM to STEAM, to include the Arts is a recognition of the importance of a more integrated approach to education. This is seen as a positive move in education. Not only does it encourage teachers, especially at Primary, to explore creativity and sensory learning within traditional "STEM" subjects, but, more importantly, it prepares young inquisitive minds for creative technical careers in a technologically advanced future.
The biggest challenge is to train primary teachers to deliver awe-inspiring STEAM content to young learners, when the reality is that they are tired at the end of a full day at school, and preoccupied with the jobs still awaiting them, like marking and planning for the days ahead. We have designed a hands-on training course called the E's of Science. We encourage teachers to Engage with a sensory activity that captures the learners' imagination, allowing them to Enquire, to pose a question. They are then left to Explore, to answer this question. Only then will they be able to Explain their results and Evaluate them.
To deliver this message, we feel that it is important to train teachers in the same way that they are expected to teach: with minimum words and maximum sensory experiences. The E's of Science is distinguished by by its museum-like exploratory style with STEAM ideas for differentiated learning, tailored to the school's curriculum needs.