A Letter from the Editor: The Mission of iSTEAMC
Dear Readers, Contributors, Teachers, Students and Parents
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your interest and support of the iSTEAMC program.
Quality education is the most essential element of modern society. We are in the 21st Century, which demands the future workforce to have skills adaptable for the fast-evolving world, which is beyond the routine knowledge taught in most standard education. However, the current education system is not yet fully capable of developing such skills. Both the learners and the education system have to change. In response to the challenges and demands, the framework of 21st Century skills have been established and emphasized as the foundation for the new generation education standards.
For a simple summary, the 21st Century skills include three major areas: (1) cognitive capacity including knowledge, thinking-reasoning, reflection, and innovation, (2) intrapersonal quality including value perspective, mindset, and management (often interpreted to as ethics and personality), (3) interpersonal abilities for effective communication, collaboration, and leadership.
Through decades of advising and collaborating with many graduate students and young researchers from top universities around the world, it has been noticed that most of them all have very good preparation of the basic knowledge, however, there are many still lacking some key competences in light of the 21st Century skills. The most concerned is the lack of self-driven interest and long-term goals. At the concrete level, most of the students lack the ability to conceptualize and ask good research questions, to come up with creative designs and solutions, and, most of all, to write critical analysis for communication and publishing. All these are important abilities for sustaining life-long learning and successful career development, which are the foundation of a happy and fruitful life that all parents would want their next generation to have.
Informed by many years of teaching and research, a good model for training such skills and abilities is to have young learners engaged in self-directed research activities and practice critical analysis and thinking skill with academic writing and publishing. Therefore, with the help of my colleagues and research team, the journal of iSTEAMC has been established, which aims to provide a portal for young talents to get involved and trained in authentic scientific research and professional writing. In addition, a series of supporting training and outreach programs have also been developed to teach and guide the young scholars in conducting meaningful research and developing professional writing and communication skills.
The benefits of this program are in many areas. First, through collaborative research and critical writing, students can improve their cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal abilities, aligned with the framework of the 21st Century skills. Through publication, students can also gain a sense of achievement and enhance their motivation in pursuing further excellence in learning and career development. Secondly, students can get early exposures to the many faceted fields of STEAM, which can help them to develop interests and visions on their future studying and career pathways.
Finally, as a direct reward, students can achieve what are missing in the formal education system by becoming better prepared in solving real-world problems through innovative research and presenting superior leadership with effective communication and management capacity. This early start will help students gain an edge in the competing world on future learning and career promotion.
In summary, iSTEAMC is aimed to help students gain high-order abilities and skills that cannot be readily learned in the standard education. The personalized inquiry in learning and training will experientially foster students’ views and understandings of the world, ways of living and working, and abilities to collaborate and lead, which all gradually fuse into a habit like personality that carries on one’s life for both personal and greater good.
Again, in representing our team, I would like to express our appreciation for your interest and support.