According to UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), “life skills” refer to psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. The skills can be loosely grouped into three categories:
- Cognitive skills for analyzing and using information
- Personal skills for developing personal agency and managing oneself
- Inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others
Life skills are all about helping people live a better quality of life. Most of these skills should be taught in childhood, because the earlier these skills are learned, the more children can practice and hone these skills growing up. Here are five essential life skills that come from a STEAM education.
STEAM projects are never meant to be one-man (or one-woman) shows, especially if the goal gets complex and multiple aspects need to be covered. A project takes teamwork to finish, and students learn to work with and support each other. For instance, the MakeX World Championship is an international robotics competition that was held in Guangzhou last year and was sponsored by Makeblock. Three hundred and fifty teams from all around the world participated. The competition aimed at promoting STEAM education, and created a great opportunity for the participants to experience and achieve the spirit of teamwork.
STEAM work requires students to look carefully and think critically. It teaches students the critical thinking skills of observing, comparing, contrasting, and analyzing. For children, playing with a coding robot like Codey Rocky can be a great way to learn critical thinking and practice it while playing. Codey Rocky combines hardware with software, allowing children to learn about programming while they play and create. By manipulating over 10 different electronic modules and applying the code they wrote to their creation, children get to explore and compare various ways of solving problems, which improves their critical and creative thinking tremendously.
It’s important to understand the “why” of any STEAM project. A vital part of the scientific method is to reach a conclusion at the end of a project, which requires making judgments. More importantly, that judgment has to be formed AFTER careful thinking and examination.
STEAM subjects and projects focus on solving problems. They usually require a person to uncover the problem first and then search for solutions. Students have to use logical thinking (inductive reasoning), math equations, or experiments to dig out the answer.
Teaching STEAM and helping students foster a love and passion for art, science, and discovery, in general, can turn children into lifelong learners and achievers.
Eventually, STEAM educatiion skills can pave a child’s path to accomplishing their ambitions and help them live up to their full potential. If life is like a random collection of beads, children can use those life skills they master to turn those beads into a delicate and beautiful necklace.