Welcome to the world of iSTEM+.
The "i" stands for "integrated" so that all students 5-19 have inspiring opportunities to learn how these (and other) subjects are applied in inter-disciplinary ways to make the technological world we live in. The world on which our future prosperity depends. The world to which they will make a valuable contribution. The world we must do more to prepare them for. ("i", as in "iMac", "iPod", "iPhone", "iPad", sounds impressive - but it is also the initial of Apple's chief designer, Sir Jonny Ive!)
STEM is the usual set of subject skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics which are in most demand by employers. There is a current House of Commons Science & Technology Committee enquiry into ideas to "close the skills gap". iSTEM+ has responded.
The "+" stands for "and more", where the more include:
more subjects - such as Computing, Geography, Sports, Careers, Enterprise, Health, History, Art & Design..
more skills - STEM skills, digital skills, practical skills, 21st C employability skills, team work, communication.....
more people - schools need all the help they can get to stay up-to-date: ambassadors, employers, alumni, parents, HE ....
Imagine six square tiles. Four of them are labelled, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The fifth is Computing and the sixth is More Subjects. The STEM tiles form four walls standing on the Computing base and supporting More Subjects as a roof. But providing a solid base of technological subject knowledge and understanding is not enough by itself. If you cut off each corner of the cube you reveal 8 triangles. We give each a label beginning with P for other desirable ways to Prepare students for the future.
Project work involves work with small groups tackling open-ended tasks over a period of time resulting in portfolios and presentations.
Problem-solving involves tackling problems and designing solutions where there is no known model answer.
Practical Activities develop skills in using the same kind of tools and resources as scientists and engineers use in the workplace.
Pride & Pleasure are developed through students' ownersip of the solutions and srtefacts the design.
Personal 21st Skills are not acquired by reading, but by doing - iSTEM+ cross-curricular projects enable students to develop such skills.
Pulling in more people helps with staff skills shortages and gives students a better idea about the types of jobs people do.
Professionalism is needed both by employers and employees, and can be gained through meeting a wider adult community.
Purpose - providing an integrated and embedded approach to technological education gives learners a greater sense of purpose.
The iSTEM+ approach is designed to help schools better equip their students with the skills and experience sought by employers. But it is not just utilitarian. Students who experience rewarding practical applications of their school subjects are more likely to be engaged learners - and hence to achieve better results. Schools also have a duty to bring out the potential of all students. Developing a wider learning community* helps teachers to update their own professional knowledge and understanding. So iSTEM+ is not just another kind of STEM activity - it is a way to rethink and plan the total experience each student undergoes as they progress through the school. This will embrace both voluntary Enrichment activities (e.g. Bloodhound, Faraday, CREST, TeenTech etc.) AND Enhancement activities such as cross-curricular problem-solving projects. To use an analogy, if each separate STEM activity is represented by a coffee mug, then iSTEM+ is not another mug competing for a place on the mug-rack - it is the mug-rack itself. The coloured images above show a solid object (called a cuboctahedron) which repesents a school putting the iSTEM+ approach into practice. We call this a Skilful School, We hope that every UK young person will experience primary and second education in Skilful Schools, and that your school will be one of them. It costs nothing to join! Come on in and have some fun.
* Indeed, this extends to the iSTEMplus Europe-wide "Kids Inspiring Kids" project (KIKS). You can see further details by looking at the various projects on the KIKS microbit WIKI, where you can see STEM students, teachers, educators from STEMNET, IET and others across the UK and continental Europe designing STEM projects and challenging each other with them.