How STEM Education Helps Build Confidence
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education involves active problem solving, collaboration, and communication in a fun way, often with hands-on materials. According to Nancy Tsupros, Director of STEM Services at CMU, “STEM is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise . . .” In these experiential, project-based activities, students learn through interactive collaboration, exploration, and discovery. This type of learning can help foster the confidence of special needs learners in several ways.
Successfully solving a problem gives a child a sense of achievement. With open-ended STEM assignments, there may be multiple ways to successfully complete the task, and sometimes solving a problem requires looking at it from a different perspective. As students work to come up with their own unique solutions, each child has an opportunity to succeed, using his or her individual strengths. Helping kids discover and rejoice in their unique strengths will set them up for confidence and success.
Children with special needs may be extra-sensitive to their learning differences and feel discouraged when their efforts don’t result in immediate success. STEM tasks remind them that everyone struggles when learning something new or trying to solve a difficult problem. Even famous inventors try many things before they find the solution that works. STEM lessons help students embrace the idea that it’s okay to fail multiple times before they succeed. It’s like a game where students can restart and try again as many times as they need to be successful. Kids gain confidence when they learn to see failure as just a step on the way to eventual success.
Having responsibilities allows kids to feel capable and confident. In STEM-based lessons, students work as a team, listening to one another, and seeing each other’s point of view, and every student has a responsibility to work together towards a common goal. Being able to contribute to the team’s success and knowing that others are depending on him or her to accomplish the task builds a sense of connection and achievement, as well as confidence in their ability to communicate and collaborate.
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Since 1980, RKS Associates has been a leader in providing the needs of special education students and helping children grow to their fullest potential. Each of our schools seeks to empower each student with skills for life, work, and recreation; we believe that every individual possesses the dignity and potential to contribute to a better world.
As part of the RKS Associates Network of schools in New Jersey, the goal at the Gateway School is to assist all students in becoming as independent as possible and help them get ready for the future. Located in Carteret, NJ, we serve individuals throughout Central and Northern New Jersey. Contact us at our main office at 732.541.4400 with any questions or schedule a private tour of the Gateway School today.
Chris Hoye, Principal-The Gateway School of Carteret, NJ