National Science Day: Innovation ‘STEMs’ from Quality Learning
India is emerging as one of the largest producers of STEM graduates in the world in the backdrop of an evolving education system and increasing internet and smart phone penetration.Updated: Feb 28, 2019 18:23 IST
“Ask the right questions and nature will open doors to her secrets”, once said the great Noble laureate Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman or CV Raman as we popularly know him, stressing on the need to create critical thinkers and innovators in the society. This thought underlines the very purpose of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education and is a constant reminder of its importance in today’s ever evolving world.
Remembering our roots: The Raman Effect
All of 15, Sir CV Raman graduated from the Presidency College in 1904, displaying exemplary understanding of Physics and English. Over the next two decades, he made numerous discoveries of which Nobel conferred Raman Effect stole the show, highlighting the scattering of a photon by molecules which are excited to higher energy levels. To commemorate this milestone, National Science Day is celebrated every year on February 28, to spread awareness about the importance of critical thinking in the field of science and technology through STEM education. Raman’s achievements stand as a testament to the fact that a strong academic foundation based on conceptual understanding can truly take you places.
Approach to effective Science learning
Children today are essentially in the AI economy. Jobs are transforming at a pace never seen before. Early conceptual understanding and a strong science foundation is essential for students to be in a position to re-skill and up-skill themselves at any given point in the future. However, our current education ecosystem doesn’t prioritize this. While India has produced several greats who have made the country the epicenter of innovation, there exist a large number of students who fear STEM education and memorise concepts merely to score in an exam. While Raman and a few other legends aced it without proper support, the ushering in of digital technology is turning out to be a complete game changer in familiarising students with scientific concepts in an easier fashion. Complemented by smart phones and other smart devices, students are able to visually learn the various concepts of STEM in a video format, helping improve their understanding and retention of the subjects. Tech-infused learning also has the advantage of making learning more fun and relatable through gamification and personalization of learning.
Innovation ‘STEMs’ from innovative teaching
While smart devices have made education a lot more accessible, a teacher’s role remains all pervasive. Hence, aligning traditional teaching methods with emerging technologies will be the future of education and one of the key propellers of Science education in India. According to a recent report by Smoothwall, a staggering 96% of teachers believe that technology has played a valuable role in creating a positive impact in the way children participate and learn lessons. With the right use of technology, students no longer remain passive listeners rather become active learners who explore and gather more information.
Success of STEM hinges on women inclusion
Rukhmabai and Asima Chatterjee have one thing in common - both were India’s first women to achieve a doctorate in Science and become the first practicing doctor, respectively. While the list of women eking out an illustrious career out of STEM is long, it still lags behind their male counterparts. National Science Day also encourages us all to think about ways in which we can increase gender diversity across STEM courses and careers. The key here is for girls to receive the same exposure to quality education as their male counterparts, before being asked to choose their path. Right from a young age, parents and teachers need to instill the same kind of passion and motivation for quality learning and science education across both genders and let their talents blossom.
To sum it up, India is emerging as one of the largest producers of STEM graduates in the world in the backdrop of an evolving education system and increasing internet and smart phone penetration. The need of the hour is a renewed focus on quality & conceptual learning, especially in the early years of a child’s education journey to eventually increase the adoption of STEM learning across the country with a greater focus on the inclusion of women, teachers and parents.
(Author Vinay MR is teacher and chief content officer at BYJU’S - The Learning App. Views expressed here are personal)
First Published: Feb 28, 2019 18:19 IST