With technology advancing as it is, the next generation needs to be skilled in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Traditionally, these domains have drawn more boys than girls. But that’s starting to change – and it must.
Thankfully, girls today have more women STEM role models. The Blossom actress Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist, Harry Potter star Emma Watson encourages girls to follow their engineering dreams and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is married to robotics hotshot, Tasha McCauley.
There is a growing global movement to close the gender gap in STEM education. Recently, the Global Fund for Women joined forces with UN Women to create the Fuelling Change Petition. They want to start a worldwide movement to get girls more involved in science and technology education plans.
STEM is no longer simply for the “brainy” ones! The US Dept of Labor states that of the 20 fastest growing jobs, 15 will require significant science and maths. Which is why many countries are prioritising STEM education for their competitive advantage. Senegalese CEO of the London-based technology consultancy business, SpotOne Global Solutions, Marieme Jamme, believes Africa’s future depends on STEM education. Citing the fact that America knows that 70% of its jobs will require STEM skills, she says Africa needs to develop such skills, rather than outsourcing them.
How can we help kids get better at learning STEM skills? One way is by using robots in the classroom. As US President Obama has said: “I believe that robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering … Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today, especially in those fields that hold the promise of producing future innovations and innovators. And that’s why education in maths and science is so important.”
Robotics make learning in science, technology, engineering and maths fun because it’s so hands-on and interactive. Robots develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a refreshing way. As one pupil said: “It’s different because you don’t usually engineer things in school…[Hand’s on] is more fun and, in certain places, it makes it easier to learn.”
A new take on Battle of the Sexes
Still think robots are more for boys? Girls tend to have a different view of the future of robotics, often focussing more on how robots can help people in the real world or the environment, very good reasons why we need more girls learning robotics.
Just watch the animation and the belief on the faces of these young girls as they learn that they can be anything they want to be, and that the sky is the limit. http://www.forsythnews.com/section/3/article/27078/. Robotics it seems, can equal the playing field as the girls take on the bossy at the 2015 VEX Robotics World Championship in America, where a girls-only team calling themselves Major Trouble are set to impress with their engineering skills. “Why are we an all-girls team?” said one of the team members. “Apparently we can do better” added her teammates. Now who’s talking?
For more information on the exciting field of robotics in education, visit www.edro.co.za
Photo Credit: Kabish Shah