Archive for June 30, 2011
I didn’t know that Engineering was a “foundation subject” and “compulsory” in the UK elementary school curriculum. The article below makes it sound really great. The part that I’m wondering about is whether the UK is having more luck filling their STEM classes than we are in the US. My perception was that the whole of the Western world was having trouble enticing kids into STEM. If UK has had engineering in the elementary school curriculum for 20 years, but is ending up with the same problems getting students to major in STEM, maybe the argument is weakened that we should put Engineering and Computing into elementary school to help bolster enrollments?
The way the U.K. teaches engineering is a lot more exciting these days. The curriculum has evolved from making matchbox holders in woodworking to designing circuit boards and electronics. Design and Technology, D&T, was introduced around 20 years ago and takes a holistic approach to learning. Science and math principles are taught through hands-on activities, not through rote learning. Students learn by making things, making mistakes and learning from both. D&T can help shape the next generation of engineers.
While D&T is growing in the U.K., it’s all but absent in the U.S. At a time when engineering is in such high demand, D&T should be considered as part of the school day. Science and engineering vacancies are anticipated to grow 70 percent faster than other jobs, but there won’t be enough qualified people to fill them. With China trending to overtake the U.S. as the number one economy, ensuring the next generation is equipped with the skills needed to engineer the future is paramount.