STEM Education in the 21st Century

EcoAmbassadeurs has recently launched a STEM program called STEM Bilingual Champions to introduce coding and robotics to kids 6 to 15 years old. This initiative aims at sparkling an interest for STEM education and career among the younger generation.

In fact, the Canadian government forecasts the number of career opportunities requiring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematic,) expertise to increase exponentially in the coming years. In Canada alone, jobs requiring STEM skills are growing at a rate of 4.6 percent annually and expected to rise further. The overall job market, by comparison, is growing at a smaller rate of 1.8 percent a year. As demand for specific skills outpace the supply of workers available to fulfill new job openings, upskilling in STEM is considered crucial to the success of young Canadians and their participation in the labour market.

To support Canada’s vision of increasing the number of highly skilled graduates who can perform future roles with confidence and competence, the Ontario Ministry of Education has restructured Ontario’s curriculum and course delivery. The aim is to prepare students with the competencies they need to navigate the demands of a highly technical and rapidly changing world. By encouraging young people’s interest to pursue STEM into university and beyond, the hope is to equip students with the skills they need to find efficient and sustainable solutions to complex social problems. Restructuring of the Ontario curriculum is also designed to help students of all backgrounds understand the vast range of career paths available to them and the diversity of jobs within different sectors. The new curriculum also promotes a well-rounded understanding of how to apply and integrate STEM knowledge and concepts. This approach is designed to foster innovation and help students apply models of thinking to challenges and crises of the future.

Ontario’s new curriculum is intended to assist students in becoming engaged critical thinkers — decisive and capable in a 21st century context. To that end, the Ontario Ministry has created a new Back-to-Basics math curriculum for each grade from Kindergarten to Grade 12, placing an emphasis on math fundamentals and their real-world applications. Mathematical literacy, its various dimensions, and an understanding of how numerical, spatial and data analysis extend outwardly to other areas of study will be explored.  In each grade, students will also have opportunities to learn about financial literacy, using broader critical inquiry to make informed decisions in an evolving economy. The topic will be integrated across disciplines, including social studies, business studies, and other subjects. A newly revised Grade 10 career studies course, mandatory for all students, will further help them realize the numerous career options available and how to align these options to their goals in a changing labour market. Technology and mathematics are interrelated; therefore, from Grades 1-12, concepts related to computer science will also be featured. Computer science and business courses will be designed to help students recognize and acquire job-ready skills.

Holistically, concepts learned in school and their connections to real life contexts will find currency within the curriculum. Educators will attempt to provide experiential learning opportunities and emphasize cross-curricular connections to show the interdisciplinary nature of different subjects. The overall strategy of the new Ontario curriculum is, thus, to help students develop the following transferable skills:  critical thinking, integrative thinking, problem solving, processing of information, communication, and collaboration.

Steering more young people towards STEM and expanding the pool of graduates in this area will help to curtail future labour shortages in Canada requiring in-demand skills. More importantly, students will be armed with the knowledge they need to reach their full potential as creative, engaged, entrepreneurial citizens with the ability to use their creative and critical faculties to make the right decisions as they progress into the future, for their well-being personally and individually, and for the greater good collectively.

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EcoAmbassadeurs is a non-profit organization providing bilingual services in the fields of health, education, entreprenuership and ecology. Our goal is to support the members of our community for their social, economic and civic development.

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