Using Creativity to Fix the STEM Achievement Gap

Using Creativity to Fix the STEM Achievement Gap


Did you know that the quality of US math and science education ranks 44th in the world? There’s speculation that these lower levels of STEM education could lead to the country’s declining global economic competitiveness, so how do we go about reversing the achievement gap in US STEM education?

It starts with engagement – and the best way to inspire engagement is with creativity.

With the increase in mandated testing, students are under an enormous amount of pressure to learn as much as possible. But, memorization has replaced creative opportunities in many classrooms. Most students won’t be inspired to take an interest in STEM by sitting in a desk and copying notes on abstract theories. Instead they’ll gain a negative view of these seemingly “dry” subjects that they are struggling to understand. This leads to less interest in STEM and a decline in innovations that have accelerated the US as a global economic power over the last century.

Creativity is a vital part of STEM. Rather than simply memorizing theories and consuming technology, we can inspire kids to create with it. In fact, this year’s White House Science Fair featured over 100 students who used technology to create innovative projects. From robots to 3D printers, these students learned how to think creatively about topics in STEM to invent amazing projects.

It’s time to replace the dry lectures in science and math classes with opportunities for kids to explore their creativity within the subjects. Here are 4 ways to bring creativity into STEM education:

  1. Don’t just give kids the answer – make them find it. Rather than simply assigning readings detailing a complex theory that explains how the world works, we need to create lesson plans based around projects. These projects give students the opportunity to figure out creative solutions to come to their own conclusions.
  1. Provide opportunities for real-world engagement. Connecting lessons to real life situations gives kids a better grasp of the subjects while providing them with the chance to come up with actual solutions to real problems. 
  1. Give them the opportunity to bounce ideas off of one another. Setting aside time for brainstorming and discussion teaches kids how to work together to come up with creative ideas. It can even help a student who is struggling with a classroom lesson to understand it better based on a peer’s explanation.
  1. Open lessons up to more questions. Recognizing and encouraging curiosity during lessons by giving students the chance to ask questions gives them an opportunity to explore more in the topics that interest them the most.

The former US Secretary of Education stressed, “Arts education stimulates creativity and innovation, critical for young Americans competing in a global economy.” Integrating art and creativity into STEM education will lead to more innovation and creation that is necessary for not only professional growth, but a crucial component to the future economic success of the US. From kids creating their own digital worlds with coding or making impressive designs with 3D printing, creativity plays a big role in STEM and should be celebrated.

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