STEM education can succeed at schools with poor conditions
Olympia, a privately-run school in Hanoi, is equipped with good facilities. However, buying expensive equipment is not the way the school follows STEM education. What it focuses on is a reasonable teaching method.
At a STEM lesson about heat absorption, Mai Nguyet, the teacher, told students that dark matter absorbs heat better. When students asked why, the teacher did not give prompt explanation, but carried out an experiment.
She lit two glasses which had the same volume of water but had fabric wraps in different colors with lamps with the same capacity. The glass of water with dark cover had higher temperature.
“This is the way the students at our school are taught,” Tran Thi Thuy Lien, a teacher of the school, said.
“We let students go on the path the scientists went. Students can see phenomena and try to find the explanations,” she said.
Educators believe that STEM education will be effective even at schools with poor facilities, if the schools attach importance to science subjects.
“Being poor must not be the reason to neglect the teaching of STEM,” said Nguyen Bich Huyen, a teacher from Ta Quang Buu Secondary & High School.
The teachers there don’t think they will begin teaching STEM when they have expensive equipment for experiments. The school now teaches STEM in two ways, either in projects, or in integrated subjects.
With the former way, teachers need to draw up projects to be applied for a couple of weeks.
In first week, teachers will raise questions for students to think about the topics and learn information from internet, books or newspapers. In second week, students will discuss the way to solve the questions in teams. In third and fourth weeks, they will prepare materials and implement their works. And in the last week, they will make reports and show their conclusions.
Huyen said that there are many things teachers can do while they don’t have to spend too much money. They can use information technology to inspire students when they carry out experiments. For example, when talking about the development of plants, after showing students the way to sow seeds, teachers can show clips about the growth of plants.
Le Tran Anh Duc, an 11th grader of the Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted, a member of STEM SOS Club, said there are some spaces in Hanoi for students who love STEM, such as Maker HaNoi and Fablab Hanoi.
“If you have money, you can buy materials to make experiments. If you don’t have much money, you can take full advantage of old devices,” he said.
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