There is a newfound emphasis on STEM degrees emerging from new numbers that suggest the amount of computer engineering jobs will increase at a rate faster than graduates can fill the positions.
In short, America needs coders. So much so that the government sponsored an initiative called “Code for America” that aimed to put private sector tech thinking to work on public sector issues. The results were apps that helped citizens report street conditions, crimes in progress and review publicly available information about their local township online.
Giving students a foundation through education will help future generations progress and build on the ideas of today.
Coding in the Classroom
Python is a language that students can use to calculate math problems through simple syntax. Students can use the “math” command to discover factorials or run logarithmic functions. Python is advanced, but small portions of it can come in handy for every day usage.
Free web apps like Wolfram Alpha can diagram calculations entered into the database and display visualizations with work. Tools like Wolfram can help you analyze and break down complex problems when a teacher is not present.
Google’s search engine can solve equations if you use arithmetic commands. You can ask things like “1+2” or “95% of 3256” to see the answers.
The Lego League of robotics challenges students to build functional robots out of Lego parts. Run by the FIRST Lego League, students 9-14 can team up to build robotics projects based on themes. One recent theme challenged students to model natural disasters through Lego bricks.
The works are able to move thanks to a technology Lego calls “Mindstorm,” which lets students build robots out of Lego blocks. Then you can code functions that tell the robot what to do. The whole thing uses a central brick that can sense commands and tell the other parts to move.
In addition to teaching basic concepts related to size and scale, Lego bricks can help illustrate important mathematical concepts. Colors and height can visually represent concepts like the basic Algebraic formulas or Pythagoras’ theorem.
Make Ideas Social
Teachers can use Facebook as a tool for extra credit, by posting problems to solve. Use the groups feature of Facebook to organize your fellow students into study groups and upload lecture notes as shareable attachments. Facebook’s cell phone upload feature lets you share lecture notes by snapping a photo of a problem written on the board.
Teachers and students can find ideas on how to study and present concepts through sites like Quora and Twitter, if you know how to search. Try checking out hashtags on Twitter.
If you feel like you need tutoring, you can search for math lessons online too. Some services even offer a review system, but you can always check Yelp if you are unsure of the quality of the service you’re getting.
There is new evidence suggesting that students aren’t wasting their time on RPGs like World of Warcraft. These games challenge a student’s math abilities as he or she specs his character and builds abilities. Using complicated formulas, students learn how to apply damage multipliers and base stats to figure out how to win.
Gamifying any subject will help make it more interesting. Try setting goals for yourself that give you something you want for studying or passing a test. Some teachers have gone so far as to break a curriculum down into “experience points” instead of grades, so students must reach a certain threshold by the end of the semester if they want to pass.
Studio lecture is a new concept where students are given a reduced lecture, then paired off. The hope is that the reduced time spent taking notes will get more students acting on the things they learn. One thing is for sure, as time goes on students will see more technology in the classroom. The emphasis on STEM is not going away.