Shady Elkassas, Assistant Principal-Academics Head of Science Dept., Sharjah American International School

Shady Elkassas is a multiple award-winning and passionate Egyptian educator working in the United Arab Emirates. He is a popular STEM advocate and speaker in the Middle East region. He has taken initiatives to adopt project-based learning (PBL) and inquiry-based learning (IBL) methodologies to create a new foundation of STEM learning in school. Shady strongly believes that leadership has a strong influence on education reform and he takes initiatives to communicate his vision not only inside his school but also outside. With Robotics being of particular interest to him, Shady led the School Robotics team and helped them win many awards at international events. He has also been invited to speak at events like TEDx and GESS (Global Educational Supplies and Solutions Exhibition). A Microsoft Innovative Educator, Google Certified Educator, Apple Teacher, and an Advisory Board Member of the K12 Digest, Shady’s qualifications also include the Masters of Science in Education, Executive Management Diploma and Bachelor of Science.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them” – Albert Einstein

With the world transforming rapidly in terms of technological advancements and quality of life, this transformation has a great impact on the challenges we face as well. Climate change, air pollution, deforestation, carbon emission, and anti-biotics efficiency are some of the many resilient crises that we are facing in the 21st century. With these problems expanding at an exponential level in the near future, we need a world with more critical thinkers, risk-takers, experiential learners, collaborators, and innovators who can actively resolve these challenges. Therefore, preparing and equipping the coming generation with the required knowledge, skills, and attitude to help them solve these problems is the need of the hour. This is one of the key reasons why we need a transform education to prepare our future leaders.

STEAM education is an educational approach that integrates the different disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics in a coherent cross-curricular pedagogy. It is built upon a strong foundation of learning objectives and outcomes that are constructed based on real-life contexts. Programs like Robotics Challenges, Hackathons, Space Cubestats Missions, and Innovation Fairs, provide students an opportunity to expand and enrich their critical thinking and collaboration skills. These programs also give students a chance to relate the concepts they learned to real-life. Bridging the academic gap between the mathematics and science fields, STEAM Education inspires students to look out for career opportunities in this field.

STEAM Education is seen to have a significant impact on gender equality and quality of education, two of the most important sustainable development goals of UNESCO. There are plenty of STEAM initiatives that promote gender equality which engages girls in STEAM activities.

One of these initiatives is the Girls Powered initiative which is organized by REC Foundation (The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation) which is being held during the national and international VEX robotics competitions. Girl Powered initiative promotes STEAM education throughout many innovations and engineering design activities.

Another initiative that promotes gender equality is Technovation-Girls. It is a global tech education non-profit organization that empowers girls and families to become STEAM leaders, designers, and problem-solvers. The program focuses on equipping young women (ages 10-18) to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders. With the support of volunteer mentors, girls work in teams to code mobile apps that address real-world problems.

Implementing STEAM activities in classrooms is becoming easier day by day. Some various free applications and programs can be used in classrooms such as Code.org, WorldSpaceWeek.org, HourOfCode.com, PhET Simulation labs & jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/.

STEAM methodologies are exponentially expanding. With arts being an essential skill for future innovators, STEAM is engaging students in creative arts, students develop better hand-eye coordination and improved motor skills. Such motor skills are critical in all aspects of STEAM fields such as electronics, robotics, and engineering design. Though we will not be able to solve future problems, we can equip and prepare the future generations to become problem solvers through STEAM Education and become a step closer to a problem-free world!

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – John Dewey

Related Articles