The science education world is still abuzz with the STEM paradigm. Economists and educators alike seem to be likewise obsessed with developing and training the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. What do all of these efforts, initiatives, curricula, books, articles, and opinions have in common? They are talking about our children. They want to impact our children. They want to train and develop and motivate and direct OUR CHILDREN!
Keep reading to develop a fuller understanding of what STEM really is and what it should mean to parents and young Christians about to enter a rapidly changing work and education world.
First of all, like all other “new” educational methods and paradigms of teaching and learning, they aren’t really new. Nothing under the sun is. Secondly, like all other truly good educational methods and paradigms, they are best developed and have the most potential when taught . . . at home!
STEM stands for: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEMS brings together four already very closely aligned fields for the purpose of creating meaningful learning experiences that mirror real-life projects. STEM education efforts reflect the understanding that professionals in any one of these fields do not operate exclusively in his/her own box.
For example: Experimental science could not function without math. Engineers rely on the data collected by scientists to understand the limitations of their materials.Technology, on the other hand, is a bit of an outlier. It’s not really a field of study but is included more or less as a statement that understanding and effectively utilizing the tools of science, engineering, and math is important.
After being not too impressed at the onset of this new acronym, I am quite pleased to report that STEM education captures the dominion mandate quite well. The Christian STEM student studies science concepts, facts, and learns the processes of observational and experimental science to better understand the Lord’s handiwork for His glory. The Christian STEM student assesses, brainstorms, designs, engineers, and reassesses real-world problems. The Christian STEM student crunches the numbers to determine the probability of an experiment’s results being reliable. And the Christian STEM student learns how to use the tools of science.
The Dominion Mandate is drawn from Genesis 1:26-28 which says, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Captured simply, to exercise dominion means to: 1) to study His handiwork for His glory and 2) to use our creative gifts as His image bearers for His glory. Thankfully, as with most things we can stand on the shoulders of giants as we seek to exercise the dominion mandate in the STEM fields.
A few of the Giants
Science – Solomon was one of the foremost natural philosophers of his time. This field of natural philosophy was codified into the scientific method by Descartes, Bacon, and others in the early-mid 1600s. – 1 Kings 4:29-34
Technology – Tubal Cain was “the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.” Obviously a hands-on learner. – Genesis 4:22
Engineering – Noah followed the great plans of his Lord, which allowed for a great deal of ingenuity as only a rough outline was given him. This kind of learning is called “immersion.” “Why start little?” suggests the Lord, and Noah concurred. – Genesis 6:13-16
Mathematics – The Magi followed yonder star for hundreds of miles, using their knowledge of the celestial bodies, making use of the technology of the day, and most certainly the mathematics available to them – Matthew 2:1
Building in opportunities for your children to create and discover can really bring life to your science homeschooling program. Set aside time for your young learners to build (and destroy) and to discover God’s handiwork weekly.