EXPECTATIONS OF EDUCATION EXPERTS IN RELATION TO STEAM DEVELOPMENT
Aiming to meet the challenges set for the present-day education to educate a creative, open to innovations, diversity, critically thinking and solving problems citizen of the global society, models encouraging school students’ interest in STEAM subjects and practical application of them are being designed and implemented. It is also important because exact sciences are treated as an engine of state economy, and Lithuanian labour market lacks STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) specialists, which is also demonstrated by the state priority to allocate state funding for studies of 5555 school graduates who entered programmes of exact sciences in 2019. The article aims to reveal the expectations of education experts in relation to STEAM development in Šiauliai city which hosts a free access STEAM centre currently being created.
To point out common and not individual opinion, to collect basic insights in the context of the object under analysis and to substantiate and explain the results of quantitative research, three investigations of focus groups were conducted by applying the methods of structured discussion with education experts. 37 education experts (scientists, pedagogues experts, school managers, heads of education divisions, pedagogues of libraries, museums, non-formal institutions) from North Lithuania region took part in the investigation.
Pedagogues would demand a higher variety for selection of education services for children in the following areas: technologies, natural sciences, engineering, mathematics and arts. It is important to ensure financial resources and modern measures to be used in modern libraries, practical workshops or when carrying out research activities. For education experts, it is important to collaborate with Šiauliai University, disseminate information on possibilities for participation in STEAM activities and to provide high quality services of non-formal education to school students. The content of to-be-provided/-suggested programmes of non-formal education must link with the content of formal lessons, and the designing of curriculum should involve pedagogues, too.
Existence of the STEAM centre in the region (Šiauliai) would provide preconditions for better development of school students’ literacy in natural sciences education: attending non-formal STEAM activities, students would activate their thinking, get acquainted with natural phenomena in unusual forms and ways, would better memorise the educational content and be more interested not only in theory but also in its application in practice. As the pedagogues have it, non-formal STEAM activities would contribute because students would be educated by experienced scientists, the educational environment would be adjusted to conduct high level laboratory work, schools could actually apply integrated activities, which could not be comprehensively implemented due to lack of possibilities within comprehensive curricula. STEAM activities would provide conditions for students to relate knowledge on chemistry, biology, physics and other subjects gained via experience and by applying interesting, modern and new methods to the aspects of reality and spheres of arts.