Guest Post: MicroK12 SAMLABS at NCCE 2018


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In 2015, there were nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs in the United States, and that number is quickly increasing with STEM job growth rising at three times the rate of any other field over the past 10 years. Strong STEM education in the classroom is critical to keep pace with this demand.
 
Sam LabsWe are seeing a strong desire from educators and administrators to improve STEM education in their schools. Programming and computer science literacy are quickly increasing, with more educators feeling confident teaching coding thanks to an increase in resources available. Educators are understanding that it’s now as critical for their students to be as familiar with technology as they are with a pen and paper. This is being delivered through hands-on involvement, with schools focusing on fusing digital and physical experiences and bringing educational theory into the real world with practical lessons and examples.
 
This is continuously improving as educators and administrators emphasize the importance of coding CPD. While our kids’ teachers may not have learned to code when they were students, they’re actively equipping themselves with the skills they need to ensure that STEM education in their classrooms is a success.
 
Generation Alpha is the first generation to have been born entirely in the 21st century, having never known a world without sophisticated technology. These kids are digital natives but their familiarity with technology can actually sometimes lead to a sense of apathy in some cases. Teachers are therefore working overtime to merge entertainment with STEM education, leveraging tools like gaming and animation to show their students the power of technology and the impact it has on their daily lives.
 
The more we can integrate concepts that sustain students’ interest, the more they will be drawn towards STEM careers in their future. For example, integrating mobile gaming in the classroom enables students to remain engaged and feel like they’re playing (when they are actually learning). With this kind of seamless approach, mobile gaming and coding education can become indistinguishable from one another in the classroom.
 
Gaming isn’t the only way to see STEM success in the classroom. STEM is increasingly being taught as STEAM, with a strong emphasis on the arts and design. Problem solving and computational thinking can be addressed in a manner that encourages creative thinking – a skill required in everything from engineering to biology to theatre. This creative thinking drives innovation and encourages multidimensional approaches towards solving problems. Teachers around the country have been using products such as SAM Labs to bring alive concepts such as well-being and health living, smart cities, internet of things, and more. This allows student to apply their coding skills and STEM understanding in real-world scenarios, creating projects and solutions that have relatable applications.
 
With all the tools that are now available, the educational system has a great chance at catching up with vocational demand. It all starts in the classroom.
 
SAM Labs empowers educators with the most engaging STEAM solutions including lesson plans, apps and electronics. Its goal is to inspire every student to discover the fun in coding and creating. Partnering with Microk12, SAM Labs is bringing STEAM tools to NCCE and the Pacific NorthWest. If you didn’t get a chance to try SAM Labs out at the Microk12 booth or in a workshop session, feel free to reach out to the SAM Labs team to see why it is the best way to launch STEAM and coding in your school today.

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