Legamar International School ->
Why participate in STEAM projects?
Our school, Legamar International School, committed to the current social needs, assumes the mission of training and educating its students to face the challenges that daily life presents them. They will not find any oracle to show them what to do or what decisions to make. Thus, they alone, aided by the resources provided and their involvement in different projects, will have to determine the most valuable criteria to reflexively choose the most appropriate academic-professional options in each case. On the other hand, knowing how to use the resources effectively and participate in different proposed projects, will allow them not only to acquire the skills required in the professional field (soft skills) but also to find the right motivation to have better results and avoid dropping out of school.
For this reason, our Academic-Professional Orientation Program (POAP), organized by objectives, stages and courses, includes among its activities the promotion of STEAM professions, an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics and refers to the specialties associated with these areas of knowledge.
Why encourage STEAM vocations? If we take into account what the labor market demands, the professions with the greatest professional future are above all those related to technological careers, which in turn are the best paid. On the other hand, it is predicted that by 2030, 80% of today’s jobs will disappear and will be replaced by those with a STEAM background according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Despite this situation, based on the Adecco consulting firm, in the technology sector 10% of vacancies remain unfilled due to lack of training and 20% of companies have to redefine their requirements to find a candidate. Thus, it is obvious that there is an imbalance between STEAM vocations and what the labor market demands.
The Spanish educational system does not provide enough graduates in these disciplines to meet the demand. According to data presented in the 19-20 academic year by Cátedra Mujer STEAM Sustainability Mobility at the December Orientation Conference, for every 100 university students only 24.2% study these careers (16.3% men and 7.9% women) and for every 100 students in Initial Vocational Training only 32.3% choose STEAM degrees (29% men and 3.3% women). For this reason it is necessary to respond to the new demands of companies and the population as a whole and it is essential to awaken STEAM vocations, because without these professionals we will be left out of the Revolution 4.0 and we will be technologically dependent.
Faced with such a scenario, for years our center has assumed the responsibility and commitment to propose to its students different projects that encourage STEAM professions, including Technovation Challenge, “Let’s Go Engineering Project, Top Scientists Program, Work Experience Workshop: electronics, etc.
Technovation Challenge in particular is a program in which Legamar International School has been participating since the 2017-2018 academic year in collaboration with the Escuela Politécnica Superior de la Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. It is an entrepreneurship and technology program created by Iridiscent in 2009 with the support of Made with Code, UNESCO, Peace Corps and UN Women. This program seeks to reduce the existing gender gap in STEAM careers and thus turn women into creators and not mere consumers, promoting and developing activities that enhance talent and technological vocations.
Although at first students from our school participated from 1st ESO to 2nd of Bachillerato, experience has shown us that it is more appropriate to allocate it to students of ESO due to the academic demands and peculiarities of Bachillerato. Thus, each year each team, between 3 and 5 students mentored by two female engineers or engineering students from UC3M, carries out the project weekly from January to May, when they must present it at the regional level before various judges at the university itself. Among the regional winning teams, the finalist teams of the season are chosen to go to San Francisco. This academic year 2022-2023 among the junior category winners are two teams from the school: first place Sharky Technogirls with the FastSafe application and fourth place Las MediaLuna with the Ecochange application. How great it would be to end up in San Francisco as a finalist team for the season!
In this technology, innovation and entrepreneurship project our students carry out many activities, as if it were a business project, to solve real social or environmental problems. In teams and in a creative way they practice brainstorming, analyze institutional or other documents, conduct surveys, plan what they want the application they are going to design to solve the problem to do and how, design the logo, produce prototypes, program in App Inventor for Android, make a business plan, which allows the subsequent implementation of the application, publicize the application in social networks through a pitch and at the UC3M Science Fair, prior to the defense of their project, before the rest of students, teachers, judges and family members.
All the actors involved (students, family, school, company and university) value this activity as very useful because of the benefits it brings them. Not only is it important to highlight the new knowledge acquired, but also the autonomy and responsibility achieved, the communication skills acquired, the teamwork, which increases their creativity and allows for greater productivity in their entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.
Throughout these years we have been able to verify the positive impact of the Technovation program on the students who have taken it. Of these, 73% are studying technology-related careers and the remaining 27% of the participants have realized that their vocation is more related to Health Sciences or have become more interested in entrepreneurship and business leadership.
In summary, the benefits of this type of project at the individual level are key to the future training of the students, preparing them for the challenges of a technological world that demands exclusive skills that only a STEAM program can awaken and at the social level to achieve a greater presence of women in the scientific and technological world, since currently in universities they rarely exceed 25% of the student body.