The newly appointed Scientix Ambassador for India, Kavita Sangvi shares her plans in propagating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning in India. Currently doing research on ‘Connecting STEM in school to Industry’, she believes that in the days to come every teacher would be doing online courses. India being the second largest online market, penetration of STEM in schools would be easier and faster
Q What is your role as a Scientix Ambassador and your feelings on becoming one?Scientix has set up a whole array of channels to distribute ideas, material and other resources to help teachers make the most of their STEM classes. This website now serves the STEM community with a huge repository of resources. Its chat-rooms, blogs, Moodle courses and other interactive elements are also the bedrock of a thriving community of educators. As a Scientix Ambassador, I will now disseminate the project, to make sure that every STEM teacher in India has access to the website, empower themselves with dynamic learning resources and engaged with the STEM community across the world. Also, I have to ensure that they support Scientix and other projects in science education in their day to day activities so that STEM learning gets enhanced. As a teacher, believer and promoter of STEM, it gives me immense pleasure to be appointed as Scientix Ambassador for India as Scientix believes promotes and supports collaboration among STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) teachers, education researchers, policymakers and other STEM education professionals.
Q How can Scientix help in developing new ideas for teachers?
Scientix helps teachers in countless ways. Such as: a. Scientix Digest – Every two weeks, over a thousand subscribers – receive the Scientix Digest by email and have the opportunity to read about recent news, resources and events published on the Scientix online portal in any one of eight languages of their choice.
b. The Scientix Newsletter is even more popular, available both in printed form and electronic versions. It had 2,300 electronic subscribers by October 2015 and an open rate of 39.1%. Each issue has taken up a different topics within STEM education, such as:
• Collaboration across Subjects and Communities
• Space in Science Education
• RRI: Responsible Research and Innovation
• National Initiatives in Stem Policy and Practice
• Teaching Nanotechnology newsletters: www.scientix.eu/ web/guest/newsletter
c. Scientix video interviews bring STEM issues alive. Scientix events provide the opportunity to interview important and interesting people involved in STEM education, not least members of the Scientix community itself. These are edited and made public on YouTube, and some have been embedded on the portal.
d. T he Scientix portal’s repository of STEM resources and index of projects are increasingly popular, and growing in their size and scope. As of October 2015, around 4,700 resources are accessible through the Scientix portal. Those include 960 teaching materials, 620 STEM reports, 65 training courses and over 3,000 learning resource exchanges (LREs), which consist of external educational content from many countries and providers. http:// www.scientix.eu/live
e. T he Scientix awards for Teaching Resources in STEM Education was conceived to help achieve that aim of constant improvement and innovation – and reward the efforts of more than 200 educational sources regularly put into our community.
f. Webinars: Scientix webinars are popular online training courses that invite experts in particular subjects in STEM education to share their knowledge and demonstrate through live connection various solutions for STEM classes. Anyone can register and attend these webinars for free. They also give attendees the chance to put questions directly to the presenter or the community.
Q You aim to make STEM enter every classroom. How would you go about it?
To bring STEM alive, one needs to make STEM learning experiential and that can only happen when you are a lifelong learner. You have to constantly embrace yourself for change with respect to content, teaching strategies, projects, building networks of learning and building bridges of collaboration. This all when supplemented with regular action research projects can make STEM teaching learning process a very joyous journey for both student and teacher. Through my regular trainings with teachers across India, I have been working with developing a positive mindset within them towards STEM professional training and implementing new approaches of teaching and assessment within the classroom.
Q Tell us about your research ‘Connecting STEM in school to Industry’.
Currently, I am working on connecting ‘STEM in school to Industry’ by having teachers partner with professionals in the industry for their content and skill development and studying its impact on students’ learning curve within the classroom.
Q Implementing STEM in Indian education system is easier said than done?
Your plans. All energies are towards trying to get Industry to partner with school. The effort is immense as it needs dedicated teachers willing to unlearn and relearn and industry professionals to invest time in showing teachers how the concepts taught in classroom actually relate to Industry. If school and industry join hands, we will see a revolution in the education industry. All over the world, having STEM graduates that fill industry needs is a rarity. In fact, UK Commission for employment & skills found that 43% of STEM vacancies are hard to fill. This is mainly down to a shortage of applicants with the required skills and experience. The root of this growing skills gap is education, from school through to university and workplace training. The World Economic Forum states that on average, a third of the skillsets required to perform today’s jobs will be wholly new by 2020. Thus, if we need to close this gap then the STEM in schools will need to undergo a transformational change with respect to curriculum mapping and assessment patterns. With right mindsets coming together, this can be achievable and tangible.
Q In what way can you exchange your knowledge with other educators on STEM?
As a trainer, I have been ardently helping redesign mindsets of teachers to make their classrooms engaging and experiential. Through social media I have been writing on changes desired on my blog https://enrichingeducator. blogspot.in/, even on twitter and on LinkedIn.Through dedicated publications, I have been writing regularly on STEM. As a Scientix ambassador, I now have access to other STEM enthusiasts to spread the learning.
Q Do you find more schools implementing STEM?
I notice more and more educators are curious and trying to bring in STEM programs to their schools but mostly people have confused doing Robotics, 3-D printing as STEM. They are aspects of STEM but STEM is found everywhere. For ex: Your pen is related to STEM learning. Science – The material used to make it Technology – The nib pointed to make the writing sharper Engineering – The designing of the pen to make it comfortable to hold, the shapes we get in the market Math – mensuration used to make a sharp cone at the top using a refill to fit a hollow cuboid. If a child is taught in comprehending STEM in every object, the concept of STEM is not vague or abstract but an everyday affair.
Q How can students benefit through STEM?
As per OECD 2015 report, a global labour market has already emerged, but we lack the institutions to make it work effectively. The real problem for the world economy is not just a global shortage of STEM skills, but even more so, the location mismatch between available jobs and employees. Thus, if we inculcate STEM skills in students at primary stage whereby concepts are linked to real life application through field visits, Industry experts talk, STEM career fairs to Internships, students will be well equipped with proficient skill sets and better concept application for their future choice of Industry changing at a rapid pace.
Q Are teachers in India techfriendly? Will they be comfortable while attending online courses?
As per Statistics portal, with over 460 million internet users, India is the second largest online market, ranked only behind China. By 2021, there will be about 635.8 million internet users in India. Moreover, everyone is mobile savvy and is able to access anything through their mobiles. With that knowledge, I am confident that every teacher will be comfortable doing online courses. The only hitch is a shifting mindset and not internet skills.
Q Rate India in STEM education by 2020?
As per latest reports by OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development], China and India are to produce 40% of global graduates by 2020. India, which produced 11% of graduates in 2010, is expected to overtake the United States and produce 12% of the share of graduates by the end of this decade. By 2020, India needs 40 million university places – an increase of 14 million – and 500 million skilled workers. Thus, India will definitely have STEM graduates but the quality of skilled workers is still a huge question mark. Unless we rework on the curriculum, connect to Industry, change the teaching methodology and assessment patterns, we will still be producing what we have been doing till date.