STEM in Primary

STEM in Primary
A blog for those interested in primary school STEM education

Saturday, 7 October 2017

STEM and the Growth Mindset

STEM and the Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset is a term doing the rounds of education circles. The terms "Fixed Mindset" and "Growth Mindset" were coined by Professor Carol Dweck, a psychologist, when she explored why some students rebounded after failure while others seemed devastated by small setbacks. She formed the view that people have underlying beliefs about their ability to learn and their intelligence. Those with a Growth Mindset believe they can get smarter and they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore, they put in extra time and effort and this lead to higher achievement. It is thus that having a Growth Mindset is a valuable trait and one that is to be fostered. It is not desirable to praise a student for being smart for solving a problem but to praise their perseverance and highlight how their effort has produced an excellent outcome. When a student fails encouragement to try again is what is needed.

What has STEM got to do with this? STEM can help foster the Growth Mindset. This is particularly true when learning to code. Miles Berry, an influential University lecturer from England, wrote about this in his blog post Debugging and the Growth Mindset. He points out that in music, sports and computer games the difficulty is part of the appeal. Coding is difficult and it rarely works perfectly the first time. Debugging is the process of finding errors in the code using Logical Reasoning and then fixing those errors. It takes time and usually many iterations to get the program running just right. As children persevere through this process and see their success at the end this will shift their mindset towards the growth end of the spectrum.

More broadly in STEM, have you ever heard someone say "Its OK maybe your not a math person". This is the antithesis of the Growth Mindset. The following cartoon, I think, illustrates the problem. STEM is viewed as hard and if you don't fit the profile of someone from "The Big Bang Theory" you aren't going to get it. However, this is not true and with support and encouragement many students will be able succeed in the STEM subjects. What is needed is engaging well structured lessons which are challenging (hard but not impossible!) and rooted in the real world. 

Stuff in the news

Fostering a Growth Mindset is Key to Teaching STEM - Sure STEM can be hard, but telling kids "not everyone can do it" may make both boys and girls less inclined to try. An article from US News 10 July 2015

Giving STEM meaning - STEM education is about more than playing with robots. An article from EducationHQ Australia 18 September 2017
How Janese Swanson Brought Tech Toys to Girls - An article from the Tynker Blog
STEM critical, but not the sole solution - This professor agrees increased STEM skills are critical to the future of the country, but believes we need to ensure every student leaves education with a really solid skills mix. An article from theAustralian Financial Review 11 September 2017

Stuff to buy

Littlebits Droid Inventor Kit - Kids can create their own custom Droid and bring it to life it with littleBits electronic blocks.
*At this point in time I earn no money from any product I list and I am not affiliated with any other company.

Stuff in education

School chosen for Federal STEM program - East Waikiki Primary School, which was selected by the Federal Government to take part in the Early Learning STEM Australia pilot, will see its preschoolers become involved with a series of play-based apps starting next year. An article from the West Australian 12 September 2017
SUBS in Schools program gets expert support - In support of Australia’s naval shipbuilding agenda, ASC Shipbuilding has backed the STEM education SUBS in Schools program, mentoring one South Australian high school team. An article from the Defence Connect website 12 September 2017.

Stuff to do Australia Wide

Contemporary practices in STEM education - This will be a live streamed event of interest to teachers and parents. It is part of Monash University's "Engaging STEM Education. Keeping Teachers at the Cutting Edge" series. 9 November 2017
CSIRO CREST Program - CREativity in Science and Technology. Engage your students with open-ended science investigations and technology projects through the CREST program.
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Young Engineers Australia - Provides an engaging, hands-on learning platform using LEGO® and K’nex® assembly kits
CoderDojo - A volunteer run programming club
Code Club Australia - A global network of coding clubs for kids aged 9 to 11.

Stuff to do in Brisbane

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SLQ Digital Futures - Each year the State Library of Queensland presents a theme of interest to the Queensland community. Throughout 2017, they invite you to join in exploring Digital Futures.
STEM in a Box has ongoing coding, robotics and 3D printing activities
Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
The Cube at QUT has a number of changing programs. 
Brisbane Planetarium - Features entertaining and informative shows for adults and children
STEAMPUNX - Not to be confused with the organisation above! Offers in-school and out of school workshop programs
Flying Fox Studios - A studio offering programs in the arts, music and construction areas from babies to teenagers in Brisbane
It's Rocket Science School Incursions - Educational and fully interactive project based rocket science incursions for primary and secondary schools in a safe and empowering learning environment.

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