What would you say to our young people (boys and girls) to encourage them to choose STEM disciplines?
I would tell them that this present 21st century is the one of science and technology; the coming decades’ professions in demand have not yet been written but will be STEM-related professions, and unless they develop a minimum of competencies in this field, they will remain spectators and will not be designing their own future.
I would also tell them that the bad reputation that precedes STEM is not accurate. Mathematics is not complicated but exciting: it only needs to be well explained. Although it may be perceived as a little more complicated than other disciplines, it is not unattainable training. The gratification that comes with having the training to keep up to date is priceless.
What do you think are students’ attitudes and perceptions related to science?
They may believe science is for intelligent people, excellent grades, with a socio-economic profile far removed from low incomes. However, none of these three is strictly true. Throughout the history of humanity, science has helped us understand the reason for everything and justify surrounding phenomena. From this understanding and knowledge, we have designed remedies, improvements and solutions to live better. If nobody had dedicated themselves to STEM, we would not have mobile phones, laptops, wifi, vaccines, or dehydrated food… All the surrounding comfort is, to a large extent, the result of good STEM actions. What remains to be designed and built is in the minds of the rising generations.
What factors can significantly affect science learning?
Teachers should have a positive and assertive view of science. If they have science internalised, they will pass it on with passion.
We are selling the students successful role models who succeeded in STEM professions. However, offering a vision of the self-taught genius like Steve Jobs does not help, nor does the pressure about what to study or the right time to finish studies in order not to be a failure; there are young people who need a different pace.
There are options for gamification or learning based on actual problems, which help a lot to incorporate science from its application examples to see its usefulness. The teaching staff’s complicity and passion are necessary.