How STEM Helps Support Life Skills - The Gateway School

How STEM Helps Support Life Skills

STEM-based (science, technology, engineering, and math) lessons prepare students for careers of the future, but they can also help special needs students with functional life skills today. STEM skills, such as problem solving, collaboration, communication, adaptability, and critical thinking are the soft skills that allow students to apply knowledge they acquire in school to real world problems and situations.

STEM in special needs

Working on STEM projects helps students integrate life skills by fostering important concepts such as:


Whether sharing ideas or findings, or explaining topics, the ability to get their message across effectively is vital for students. STEM lessons ask students to communicate their questions, and reflect and explain what they did to solve a problem to the best of their ability.


In STEM lessons, students work with their classmates towards a common goal. Collaborative, hands-on activities allow each student to contribute and shine. Students practice working as a team, listening to one another, and seeing each other’s point of view. When a task is accomplished by the entire class, everyone celebrates in the success, and no one is left out.

Critical Thinking

STEM lessons also require students to use analytical and critical-thinking skills to look for patterns, make predictions, determine if their predictions are correct, and then use data to support their claim. Students learn to make decisions based on scientific data that supports the best solution. This gives them practice in the skills they will need to make informed decisions in their everyday lives.

Problem Solving

In open-ended STEM assignments, there may be multiple ways to successfully solve the problem, and students work to come up with their own solutions. This gives them confidence to find their own solutions to real world problems.


STEM lessons help students embrace the idea that it’s OK 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.

Did you know?

Working on STEM projects helps students develop into critical-thinking collaborators who can think abstractly and approach problems from multiple angles to find practical solutions to the best of their ability. STEM lessons give students practice in these ever-important life skills. Transferring this STEM thinking into everyday problems will only help foster their current and future success.

Request a Tour of The Gateway School

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