It is an approach to teaching and learning that integrates content and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Its goal: to prepare students for careers that strengthen the XXI century workforce.
The XXI century societies face great challenges in different areas. Among them are natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and disturbances caused by climate change; economic competitiveness; the demand for more complex solutions associated to the advancement of science and technology; and educating the youth to be trained and occupy jobs that the society demands. Chile is no exception to these challenges.
For this reason, some advanced countries consider scientific education an interest of national priority. This has resulted in the adoption of a new approach, known abroad as STEM (an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and that we will call Integrated Sciences.
On the one hand, STEM is a public policy in which the countries coordinate different actions to incorporate the learning of sciences, in order to increase scientific vocations and improve human capital for local technological areas. It is also an approach to teaching and learning that integrates content and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These skills include participation in the inquiry, logical reasoning, collaboration, and research.
This approach is consistent with the very nature of science. Often unknowingly, to teach mathematics, physics or geography, we teach astronomy due to the multiple links between the sciences. At the same time, it is not strange that astronomy documents, for example, the formulation of Kepler’s laws, could be read with a literary or historical interest.
To deliver concrete tools that help propelling the implementation to the approach of Integrated Sciences in Chile, Fundación Chile’s Centro de Innovación en Educación (Education Innovation Center) has established partnerships with different organizations linked with the subject.
Among the partnerships the Carnegie Institute of Washington stands out to create the site “Chile, Window into the Universe” (www.astronomiaenchile.cl), which allows bringing astronomy and science teachers and students together in a simple, entertaining, and educational way. “These contents are aligned to the current national curriculum, but we deal with them from an approach of integrated sciences, which allows us to study a phenomenon of the real world from the views brought by different disciplines such as science, art, language, and others” explains Marcos Cordero, Project Coordinator.
Fundación Chile is also in partnership with Siemens Stiftung, for the implementation of the project ” Más Ciencias” (More Sciences) in 10 schools in the Region of Antofagasta.
Siemens Foundation’s Experiment 8+ methodology proposes a didactic approach that is accompanied by printed materials for teachers and resources for experimentation. The activities give students learning opportunities with a look on Science, Technology, and Society, which allows developing reflective and critical capacity before the development and impact of scientific and technological activity in society and the environment.