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In an ever-changing and complex world, STEM education provides students with the necessary skills to meet technological challenges and inspire innovation. Yet the important, foundational brain-based skills needed for success are not packaged in the detailed STEM lesson plans.
FIE STEM fills in these gaps. The program prepares teachers to intentionally and explicitly mediate these critical learning skills in a systematic way. Organized into four modules, each focusing on a particular learning disposition, the program consists of progressively challenging tasks designed to help students improve their mental flexibility and critical thinking. The four modules are Spatial-Visual Thinking, Relational Reasoning, Categorical Thinking, and Effective Communication.
Visual and spatial thinking is the ability to perceive, analyze, and understand visual information. Students rely on these skills to understand geometry and related mathematics, as well as to read and produce diagrams, charts, drawings, and graphs. Studies show that children (K-6) with strong spatial-visual thinking thrive on STEM tests, and high school students are more likely to enter careers in STEM.
Relational reasoning is the ability to understand relationships between two or more ideas, concepts, or situations and is the basis for logical thought and problem-solving. These skills are essential for mathematics, computer programming, all sciences, and applied fields such as medicine. Rational reasoning in STEM is challenged at all grade levels. Research shows a correlation between these skills and achievement in STEM subjects.
Categorical thinking establishes the framework of scientific reasoning and provides a background for logical operations. It is the foundation of problem-solving in algebra, developing proofs in geometry tasks, and learning computer science. Experts consider it one of the most important competencies of the 21st century. Research shows that it requires intentional instruction, as categorical thinking is not developed by everyday experiences.
Effective communication in STEM fields requires not only a mastery of the content, but also the ability to understand the audience, to effectively convey the message, and to discern important information, precisely. It involves critical verbal and listening skills, as well as essential writing and reading skills.
FIE is open to university students, educators, clinicians, professionals, and parents interested in cognitive strategies geared toward STEM education.