3 Ways to Get Your Pupils Excited About STEM Subjects

In recent years, it's become increasingly clear that we all need to take much more of an interest in the environment and the world around us as a whole. And, this is something that young people and children have started to pick up on. For example, following the release of David Attenborough's most recent ‘Blue Planet’ series, and in response to global reports on climate change, we've seen young people protesting outside of Parliament. And, back in February, school pupils even went "on strike" as part of a campaign for action on climate change (BBC). 

It's clear that young people of school age and beyond are very passionate about doing what they can to save the planet. But, in order to ensure they have all of the necessary tools and skills to do this, we need to make sure they're taking a keen interest in STEM subjects. So, here, I'm going to outline just three ways in which teachers can encourage this.

Use games and online learning tools

One of the reasons why some children and young people might struggle to take a real interest in STEM subjects is that sitting in a classroom and writing sums and equations in an exercise book can get quite boring after a while. So, why not inject an element of fun into your classes by using some fun games and online tools to get your points across?

Not only will this help to make your classes more exciting, but it will also give your pupils a chance to improve their computer literacy skills. This is incredibly important at a time when a lot of climate change activism is happening online. 

Encourage outdoor learning

Another great way to add an extra dash of fun to your science and maths lessons is by teaching them outside. Again, this will greatly reduce the risk of your students finding these subjects boring, and it will also help them to keep the environment in mind while they're learning.

You can even use natural materials as learning tools. For example, you could use pebbles and leaves to teach basic sums, create shapes using branches, or even help your students to understand the local ecosystem by showing them the array of wildlife that exists in their school yard. Again, not only should this help to teach them some great lessons, but it will also ensure they feel connected to the environment around them (so they'll be more inclined to do what they can to save it). 

Talk about how STEM relates to the environment

Regardless of whether your lessons take place in the classroom, the computer lab, or on the school field, you can always talk about how your lessons apply to the environment. It's easy for pupils to feel like they won't necessarily use all of the facts and skills they learn in maths and science lessons, but relating your teachings to the world around them will go along way to holding their interest, and it will show that what they're learning is actually really important.

So wherever possible, when you're planning a STEM lesson, make sure you include some information about how the topic you're focusing on will actually apply in their day-to-day lives. This way, they'll be far more likely to take the information in and use it once they leave your classroom. 

It's clear that we all need to be doing more to help the environment, and the best way teachers can do this is by encouraging their pupils to take a keen interest in their STEM subjects. Who knows — you could well have the next David Attenborough in your class. So, you'll want to make sure you help them to develop skills that will allow them to live a more eco-friendly life as they grow up. 

Rachel Hall is Managing Director of Busy Things, a company that offers learning games and resources for primary schools.

If you are struggling to get your students engaged in STEM activities, it may be time to consider how well you know your pupils and how you can encourage your teacher-student relationships to blossom in the classroom.

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