Our STEM SURVIVOR Project aims to increase our students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and to provide a more qualitative integration of STEM disciplines. In doing so, we use a storytelling approach considering the objectives of our project. Gecko, the main character of our stories, is a small lizard who loves to explore. He and other characters come from all over the world and compete in seven regions of Anatolia. They try to win the race by overcoming difficult conditions that await them in every region. However, this may not be so easy! In these races, Gecko and his team use their engineering skills to overcome the problems they encounter on their way.
Why should we include stories in STEM education?
Very often our daily life and life events look like fiction. The problems in this fiction may occur suddenly or as a result of the development of many processes. Are our children ready for these scenarios? Will they be able to solve the problems they face? For these reasons, we put stories at the heart of our project. Stories can create a link between children’s fantasy and their real life. Their knowledge in STEM can help them to solve real-life problems of daily life.
With the work done for the project implementation, we expect our students will:
- develop their scientific thinking skills;
- understand the nature of science and develop their skills in using ICT tools;
- learn that they have many options to solve the problems they see in their environment;
- use engineering design processes to solve a problem they encounter;
- develop the ability to produce alternative solutions to problems with simple materials and
- understand the correlation between mathematics and science.
As a first step in the study process, we present a story to our students. After reading the story, we give a questionnaire to determine whether they understand the main problem in this story. Further, the students are asked to respond to this case study question: If you encounter this problem in your life, how would you solve it? This question actually helps the students to empathize with the story character.
Building interdisciplinary relationships is often difficult. The link with scientific topics in the story is not always clear. However, it is present if we look into solutions Gecko comes up with. For example, when facing issues in nature, Gecko takes advantage of the properties of substances. In doing so, he observes the effects of force on the motion. It also might require mathematical operations in the calculations of a model it produces. To build a bridge, he can use length measures to produce a catapult. These activities combine science and mathematics with the engineering process.
As for technology involved, the research assignments and digital posters we give to students help us enable the technology integration process.
Undoubtedly storytelling can positively affect children’s language skills and help to focus on particular subjects. The more the child knows about the occurrence of the problem and its possible solutions, the more comfortable and confident he feels in solving them.
About the author: Serkan Topbaş – Primary school teacher | STEM Educator Trainer /Turkey