While the future stability of our economy is uncertain as the nation faces many challenges, parents now take comfort in knowing that science and engineering jobs are growing 70 percent faster than other occupations. But to secure these jobs, STEM embedded skills are essential; thankfully, they are fun and exciting to learn. STEM activities will help our nation’s youth gain the skills which includes the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, and drive advancements required to succeed in today’s challenging world. This means that students with STEM embedded skills will be at an advantage both in their education and career space.

This was the motivation for Mr Bright Kamasuode, a participant at the WAAW Foundation STEM Teacher Training in July, 2017. Mr Bright of the Gavriela School Warri  took his Junior secondary school class 1 and 2 students through a series of STEM activities towards creating a candy dispensing machine with locally available materials such as cardboard, PET bottles and Top bond which are easily accessible within their school environment.

The project took three weeks to complete, taking the students gradually through the engineering design process to arrive at the final result so as to appreciate the problem solving process. This class activity evidently encouraged team work and collaboration among these young students.

Does the thought of collaborating with others increase your heart rate and make your palms sweaty?  Yes, exactly why STEM activity is introduced to these students at this young age. Whether you’re pursuing a career as web developer, programmer, researcher or teacher, it is inevitable that you’re going to have to work alongside others. This is precisely why teamwork skills are a vital element in today’s workforce. Whether you’ve had a bad experience working in groups in the past or you simply feel that functioning on your own is more efficient, there will come a time when working in a group will not only be helpful but necessary. It is however helpful to know that STEM skill is a useful and transferable to other sphere of life.

The ultimate goal of STEM education is to encourage students to acquire STEM skills that will be beneficial to them at an early age in classroom and in turn will benefit the greater economy through their relevance in the job market. STEM cuts across various discipline, profession and vocation showing that the skills acquired from these activities can be integrated into a variety of interest. Not only will STEM skills serve you well in your future career but it’ll help you acquire the knowledge and training you’ll need to get there. As a student or teacher, regardless of what program you’re enrolled in, STEM skills will likely be incorporated in your schoolwork. So it’s time to embrace STEM education.

Unoma Okorafor

Dr. Unoma Okorafor is the founder of WAAW Foundation. She is a passionate social entrepreneur committed to empowering girls in African through STEM focused education.

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