Early Motivation Leads to Success in STEM

The Oklahoman published a story on Wednesday by the Dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering, Thomas Landers, in honor of National Engineers Week about an Oklahoma engineering program that fueled student interest through exposure to aerial vehicles, drones, and flying robots in an effort to show that engineering is cool  (an important initiative because tomorrow’s engineers are not always exposed to the field of engineering.

There is a push to promote better STEM education for college and high school students, but this may not be early enough to capture students’ imaginations.  In the Oklahoman, Landers points to research that says earlier is better for STEM stimulation and is calling for educators to increase interest and give students the skills to succeed.

“…as economic growth becomes increasingly driven by the ability to generate ideas and translate them into innovative products and services, it becomes more apparent that all children should be prepared for a world immersed in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”

Both Nephrotex and Land Science have been used to stimulate interest in engineering for middle school students, high school students, and college students.

But Epistemic Games Group goes beyond simply igniting the fire: our games teach students skills they need to become engineers. From proper work place behavior, interactions with bosses and supervisors, to analytical and problem solving skills, Epistemic Games are transforming kids from students to pseudo-professionals every time they play the games.

Even if these students decide that their career interests lie elsewhere, their experience with an epistemic game is not for naught. Epistemic Games have shown to improve literacy and vocabulary as well–It’s not just STEM–Epistemic Games and the Humanities?–because the skills required for STEM careers are universal.

“Nearly all jobs — not just engineering jobs — will require skills gained through STEM education. All of us should support youthful interests in solving the problems they see around them, as they learn how things work and discover how to improve products and processes.” Landers said.

GAPS is housed within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.