“This pandemic created a new type of education and with a little interest this new way of schooling can dictate the future of teaching even after we are done with this virus”.
Science and technology have an important role in our life, more than we can imagine, because it allows us to exist, evolve and prosper. They are necessary tools in our everyday life and, although we don’t realize it yet, we are dependent on them.
From the moment we wake up, with a simple gesture, we turn on the lights (depends on the region and time) and, afterwards, we turn on our smartphones and our WIFI. It’s all so simple now, but I wonder, if Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Edison hadn’t existed, would it have been possible for us to light our rooms with electricity or turn on our computers?
My point is that science and technology were invented and studied by people that I would like to call “Beautiful Minds” (like in the movie). While talking about computers, which we all can agree that they single-handedly saved our education systems during this pandemic, one notable man doesn’t usually come to mind, this person being no other than Alan Turing.
When asked about the name “Turing”, my first thoughts were the following: The guy who broke the German Enigma Code during the Second World War. Curiously, this was not his greatest achievement when talking about the world of science. In 1950, Turing published Computing Machinery and Intelligence, a work that not only predicted the problems of the future world, but helped solving them. This paper presented for the first time the idea of artificial intelligence and a unique way to recognize a person from a computer. Also, he was the first person to make a device which could use algorithms to solve arithmetic problems, in other words, the first prototype of a modern computer.
Looking back, Turing, without even knowing, did a great job for the world years later, especially for the students. The school of the future can’t exist without computers and far away communication. (Matei Calin, 8th grade)
Why physics? “My new goal in life is to understand the mysteries of the universe by looking for clues beyond the stars.”
Science has played an important role in my life since the beginning, as I was always curious about the world that surrounds us, and mostly outer space. This curiosity manifested as a keen interest in the science classes at school. To me, the hours spent learning about these subjects were a form of leisure. That was until the 6th grade when we started taking physics classes.
At first, I thought that a new science would be a walk in the park for me and I would enjoy it as much as the other sciences. But to my surprise, I quickly found out I could not wrap my head around it, and as I would later learn, it takes a very skilled teacher to accurately explain all the wonders of physics.
My dislike abruptly stopped in high school when I had already given up on this subject, and I was lucky to meet one of the best teachers I have ever come across. To reignite the thirst for knowledge, in a subject one is not passionate about, you need to be both a master in teaching and a master in that subject, and that she is. As we all know, a good teacher can shape your outlook on life. After crossing paths with her, I changed my plans for the future. (Alexandru Stoica, 11D)
Stem is Life
Stem. Is. Life. I can safely say it and I don’t think anybody could tell me I’m wrong. Well, how is it life, you might say; and then I would ask you – When is the last time you had to go somewhere and didn’t use your phone for navigation; or the last time you went to the library to search for a recipe instead of just looking it up on your phone; can you even imagine designing something yourself when you have so many apps to help you these days? This is STEM. There is no universe where we get this high up on the evolutionary scale and not depend on it. Even the most mundane things that have been going on since the end of time, like farming, are being technologized. STEM is the most sought-after industry there is at the moment, and thus, it felt logical to me that I should somehow keep on with the pace required to evolve and follow the trend by immersing myself in it.
I always felt special because I got to see it grow, having reached a point where technology evolves immensely during the span of a generation not a lifetime. I had a front seat in seeing its progression because of my brother’s hobby of building himself the best PCs with the available components. This allowed me to experience its evolution, and to see something get better, more powerful every couple of years. Witnessing every groundbreaking change gave me something to look forward to every year in CES: what they would come up with that would beat last year’s progression. (Irina Sirghie, grade 11 D)
STEM IN MY LIFE “That was the moment when I realized how much I love learning new things and develop my intelligence, which is basically what STEM offers me.”
We all have a school subject we are the best at and which we like the most. In my case, that school subject is math and I’ll tell you how I discovered that.
When I was in primary school, every math class was starting with a game of calculations: we had to throw a ball from one to another and the person that was throwing the ball had to ask the one that was catching the ball to calculate something. After that we were frequently playing games, saying jokes or the teacher was telling us stories related to the lesson. She even created a character for geometry called “Stepy”. There was this math competition called “Gazeta Matematică” and every year she was training the kids, in the weekend, who wanted to participate.
In the third grade, our teacher asked us to do a poster about math. That was the moment when I realized how much I love learning new things and develop my intelligence, which is basically what STEM offers me. (7th grade, Irina Necula)
When saying STEM what does it make you think of?
Personally, the answer I’ve come to is life as we know it.
I consider myself to be a curiosity-driven person, but even so, I can confidently say that up until high-school none of the actual STEM sciences piqued my interest. When I finally became a freshman, things changed. I met the best teacher I’ve ever had. She is the very reason why I gave PC science a second chance, and I’m glad I did! Programming turned out to be way more of a fascinating domain than I initially thought. Learning how to code and actually successfully doing it is the most powerful I’ve ever felt. It is as though you can achieve everything, and the funny thing is you actually can! Above all, I learned to view things differently. You could say I developed a bit of a programmer’s eye. Take a step back and try to distance yourself from the average customer point of view: most of the things around us are attainable just because of many strings of code, namely your phone or your laptop, or even your car!
In short, I think everyone should try their hand in programming, or any side of IT for that matter. It’s such an interesting topic and, at the end of the day, life in today’s society wouldn’t be possible without it. (Voicu Maria, 11 B)
Once upon a time, there was STEM….
When I was in primary school, I started taking part in ICT lessons. We were taught how to do simple tasks on the computer, like customizing the user interface and writing in Microsoft Word. Later, I learned how to use Excel and build tables using functions. They were pretty much basic skills that everyone should possess in the 21th century.
Eventually, I discovered an even deeper branch of computer technology, that is programming. It’s about the most fundamental you can get, besides making a processor work. The average person might be astonished when learning a programming language, just as I was, but soon I realized that this is actually the simplest part. A programming language is more or less an actual language like English, Spanish etc. The only difference is that you ‘speak’ to a device, not a person. Considering that, I reckon that everyone can learn to code, even with online tutorials only.
That being said, I believe programming is fun and useful, although it can get quite difficult depending on what you want to achieve, but when you get that wonderful feeling after having understood the most basic operations that take place within our computers, it’s really worth it. All these years, I have learnt sciences are but a never-ending beautiful story….(George Melintioi, 8th grade)
STEM: from the playground to the lab
It all started when I was little: I was stirring leaves and flower petals from my grandma’s backyard when my passion for science started. I noticed how the colors of my “magic potion” changed and I was indeed mesmerized, but I didn’t think much of it; at that point, it was all simple, irrefutable magic. Until recently, anyway. While picking my high school profile, I had an epiphany: what I liked to call creativity, I can now easily call career and, above all, passion.
Everyone should get the chance to discover what they like. That’s why it is crucial that schools provide professional equipment for their students to feed their curiosities by experimenting.
Experimenting is the starting point in every field, especially STEM-related. Let’s consider Thomas Edison’s case: it took him 1000 unsuccessful attempts to conceive the light bulb before permanently changing our world for the better. Then why not let children discover and use their potential to create something groundbreaking?
The uses of STEM are ubiquitous and they are what made us evolve as human species. Whether we talk about researching a wonderworker cure or an instrument that ends climate change, we should encourage students to be creative and get out of their comfort zone. (Popescu Natalia, 10 E)
STEM in my life
Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. Four different but strongly linked fields that always found their way into my life. Ever since I was in grade school I was interested in science, more so in the biology part, specifically botany, I assume because of my father’s background in agriculture. As for technology, I was pretty much raised near electronics such as televisions or computers to, more recently, smartphones. My relationship with mathematics was always good, I was taught from a young age not to fear it and, somehow, I grew to enjoy it. Engineering is the most important area from the 4 mentioned, therefore I left it for last.
In the 9th grade I decided to join my high school robotics team -Robo Sapiens- with the intention of bringing what I can learn from my father’s experience (in more automotive related mechanics) to the workshop and become a valuable member. Now 18, I devoted most of the past three to four years to the Robo Sapiens team, participating in many competitions.
If I were to draw a conclusion based on my past experience working alongside my fellow team members, I would say that the best way students of any age can experience the STEM culture is what the robotics team competitions are doing: form teams and approach topics that they consider relevant, reach out to teachers and mentors -not the other way around- and learn from their mistakes while forming long-lasting friendships and improving their social skills. I do see the merit in having dedicated STEM courses, and I believe they belong to colleges and universities, where they are taught already. (Gabriel Stanciu, 12 E)
„STEM have always represented a huge part of my life, ever since I was a child”. It started as learning what multiplication is to coding and learning formulas, and during this time, I never stopped loving them!
How did it all start?
But for my dada who gave me his passion for maths, maybe I would have never been attracted to any of this, but what mesmerized me was computer science. My first contact with it was when I was about 9 years old. I remember that my parents made me take these coding lessons which I opposed to, but after I learned what “cout” and “while” are used for, I have changed my mind forever. From there on, those lessons that I used to take every Monday became a safe space for me. Moreover, when I found out I was about to have coding classes at school, I was the happiest. It feels rather relaxing than challenging to learn this science, as I can create everything I want if I know the right code.
What is STEM for me?
To me, it feels rather relaxing to learn this science, as I can create everything I want if I know the right code. I consider that my love for STEM, not only computer science, made me develop a logical way of thinking and realize that I want to work with them. STEM helped me become the person I am today and kept me interested due to their continuous evolution. (Ilie Bianca Ioana)
What does technology mean to me?
Like it or not, technology plays a very important role in our lives. We have created applications that help us in everything we do: from robots that make our lives easier or that have replaced certain activities that humans did, to the development of the IT program that has become more and more complex. Some people see this as bad, but is it so bad?
The sciences are present in our lives before we realize them and we learn them from the first years of life without realizing it. We start with easy operations, additions and subtractions, which, as my parents told me, help us not to be fooled when we buy some products from a store, we continue with everything that technology means in our lives: smart phones and TVs., computers, smart homes and ending, for those who may need it, with the fact that a person’s life can be saved or supported by medical devices made with the help of science.
From my point of view, science in our school is as important as any other subject, which I think is important. Also, one thing I would love to see in our school is an engineering workshop where we can do some more applied things. (Neghina Delia, 7th grade)
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a broad term used to group together these academic disciplines.
For me, STEM is a means through which I can improve my skills in order to achieve my life’s goal, to open my own company in the domain of IT. Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated by how a video game was produced. The bright minds behind these sources of joy were always using the best machines available at the time and, armed with tremendous knowledge in Computer Science, programming and Web Design, they were able to produce absolute masterpieces which brought joy to all those who played them. So, with my goal in mind, I set out to learn the bases of STEM, before I even knew what STEM even was. I’ve had a few setbacks, since at the time I wasn’t even able to comprehend most of the scientifical and mathematical concepts that were thrown my way, but now it is relatively smooth sailing, since I’ve grown older and a little wiser. I’m still learning, making mistakes and trying, because, in the end, never giving up is one of the things that makes us human and pushes us to aspire for the best within us. (RARES MATEI BRATU)
STEM in my life
New technologies had a great impact on our lives. In the past, numbers and calculations were only used for the most basic things, such as counting the sheep from a herd. Now, STEM education is present in all students’ every-day life, not only preparing us for a digital future, but also developing both our brain and our critical thinking skills.
In my case, it all started when I was in first or second grade. I became passionate about maths: it was, as we may call it, “love at first sight. Not only that I didn’t find it difficult, but it was an exact science! After all, there is nothing subjective about fact that “1+1=2”.
So, the more I learned, the more I felt that this school subject became my favourite one. Moreover, even though it may sound crazy, the exercises that I like the most are the ones I work on for a really long period of time before I manage to solve them. That’s because I feel that there is a whole “journey”: after multiple tries, I finally get where I am supposed to; this gives me a feeling of satisfaction, of joy. As a consequence, I learned that if you try hard enough, you shouldn’t ever give up until you succeed.
To conclude, I feel that now “maths” is part of who I am; it helped me evolve as a person and realize that sometimes you just have to see things from a different perspective. (Daria Ciocanescu, 10th grade)
A journey alongside STEM
I am a curious little thing by nature, or that’s how I would like to describe myself. Often, I was told that “curiosity killed the cat”, in this case an analogy in which the cat is supposed to resemble me. Can you imagine that? Me: a human and a cat at the same time? Neither can I! Therefore, I kept researching and looking to learn new things every day.
Growing up, my father used to repair all sorts of things, it fascinated me to the point where our conversations would always end up with me asking him to explain how one mechanism works. As boring as it might sound, I cherished every little moment in which I got to talk to my father about system and the physics laws that got them working. He is one of the few pillars in my life that didn’t discourage me or try to talk me out of pursuing my dreams in a Stem related career.
Over time I started to compare myself to other children around me; How they talked or carried themselves, what was their attitude towards some specific subjects. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t share the same opinions like them, I enjoyed most of the periods that they despised in school: science, technology, engineering and math. Fearing that I might be ostracized, I adapted to blend in. It was a constant battle between me, my unique self and a social mask I have created in order to protect myself by suppressing the only things that I truly loved. As years passed by, I grew more distant to stem subjects and what they stood for. I still excelled at those subjects in school and never lost touch, but the fire that kept me going was dim-lit soon to be out.
Somehow, Stem found me again in high school, when I agreed to join a robotics club, where I met the most amazing people who shared my devotion and adoration for the four particular disciplines. I can already see the differences that these topics made into my life and how they helped me improve, not only by expanding my horizons using educational platforms to learn, but also sharpening my communication skills and forming long-lasting bonds.
Even though I still have a long way to go and a lot more to learn, I will keep persuading my dreams as well as doing what I enjoy the most, as should everyone else. (Isabela Gaspar)
STEM in my life- By Ionescu Lara Maria
I’d be lying if I said that I instantly clicked with STEM the first time I encountered it.
As a kid I was a dreamer, someone who avidly avoided the real aspects of life. I’d throw myself in the first book I got my hands on, getting lost in a new fantasy world every week where the laws of physics didn’t apply as they do here. That is to say, when I first encountered STEM, I was completely lost. It wasn’t that I didn’t necessarily understand it, just that I did not like it and therefore didn’t put any effort into it.
Of course, as I grew up, I discovered more and more careers in STEM that caught my interest, even if for a short while. For a good chunk of my life, I wanted to become an astronomer, as the vastness and beauty of our universe had always captivated me- I then learned what it took to be employed at NASA and said bye-bye to that dream.
After a long period of pondering my future, I finally decided on a career that would help me stay within the STEM field, as well as allow me to keep on creating and giving others the joy of an imaginary world to get lost in: video game development. Technology is the only STEM branch I truly like, and so it’s the one I understand the most. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying to develop my other skills, but this is the one I’ve settled on developing the most.
So, the conclusion? STEM is a wide enough field for anyone to find a job in if interested. Even if you might not click with one (or multiple) of the branches, there might always be another one, just waiting to be discovered by you.
STEM IN MY LIFE
Sandu Matei, 10A, Spiru Haret National College Bucharest
STEM didn’t mean a lot to me until first grade, and ever since then it represents a huge part of my life, thanks to it my logical capability of understanding has grown considerably over the years.
How did it all start?
I initially lived in Ireland and started doing maths at the age of 4, progressively getting better until my father realized I had potential for the Olympiad. Ever since I went to my first maths contest, I have constantly reached the County Stage. In sixth grade I started working with a personal tutor who made me understand maths at an even higher level and motivated me to work harder, thanks to her I’m currently studying in one of the best high schools in Bucharest, and why not, in Romania.
What does STEM mean to me?
STEM reflects the way I perceive life, everything we do has a logical explanation and can be measured, and even so, there are so many unexplainable processes that take place in our lives, raising even more curiosity to the passionate.
How should STEM evolve in schools in the future?
In my opinion, schools should prioritize focusing on practice, rather than theory, where all STEM teachers should have their own laboratory and apply their knowledge through several experiments. Courses would be more attractive and interactive to students, encouraging a friendlier environment.