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Effective STEM education in Hanoi schools

While STEM education has only recently found its way into official guidelines, several initiatives have been launched across Hanoi to give students of all ages access to this interdisciplinary approach to learning.

Schools in Hanoi have been effective in implementing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in the 2023 - 2024 school year, as reported by the Hanoi Department of Education.

Primary schools have widely implemented STEM education. There are 65 high schools that have integrated STEM into their educational activities on a regular basis. A large number of schools have had STEM education classes. STEM clubs in schools have been established and strongly developed, attracting large numbers of students.

The impact of STEM education on her students is evident, Le Ngoc Mai, a science and technology teacher at Lomonosov Education System in Nam Tu Liem District, told The Hanoi Times.

Students from Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted experience STEM products at the IT and STEM Festival in November 2023. Photo: The Hanoi Times

"They know how to make a specific plan to achieve a goal through learning and programming. STEM education also changes their way of thinking by training them to identify and solve problems," Mai said.

She has seen students develop their critical thinking skills through the application of what they are learning in science and technology classes. "STEM subjects also give them the freedom to explore new knowledge through the use of computers and technology, rather than through games or TikTok and Facebook," Mai added.

She emphasized that STEM education is about learning by doing in real-life situations, which teachers integrate into the classroom so that students understand what they are studying and the practical use of that knowledge. It also means getting students excited, rather than passive learning.

"By applying knowledge to solve real-life situations, students develop flexibility and develop themselves, that's my view. This teaching method has a positive effect when it brings excitement and creative spirit to the students and helps them to acquire many necessary skills," Mai said.

According to Dr Tran Trung Kien of Hanoi University of Science and Technology (HUST), schools in the capital have focused on equipping facilities and raising awareness among administrators, teachers, parents and students about the role of STEM education.

"Managers and teachers master teaching methods and ways of organizing STEM education, and adapt curricula to effectively teach STEM in schools. HUST has developed many STEM lessons to provide teachers with the best teaching methods and tools to inspire students and help them believe and desire to become a leading technical expert in the future. We also support students to participate in national and international science competitions," Kien told The Hanoi Times.

Hanoi students visit booths displaying STEM products at the IT and STEM Festival 2023. Photo: Hanoimoi

The culmination for STEM education in Hanoi is the annual Information Technology (IT) and STEM Festival held in the capital. In the 2023-2024 school year, the festival was successfully held in Nam Tu Liem, Bac Tu Liem, Cau Giay, Hoan Kiem and Hai Ba Trung districts.

"Since students often study STEM subjects and compete in STEM-related competitions in groups, they also learn to work together. The advantage of working in teams is that they must establish a teamwork process, define each member's role, and take responsibility for their part," Kien said.

He added that the increased attention given to STEM has also led to an increase in the number of school clubs, designated teachers for the subjects and STEM festivals, which serve as a platform for children of all ages to explore their interests in STEM fields.

Lam Quang Anh, an eighth-grade student in the Lomonosov Education System, has been studying robotics since he was in fifth grade. "Learning STEM is a lot of fun for me and also gives me new knowledge, especially about programming and designing robots," Quang Anh said.

Nguyen Nhan Minh Duc, a sixth-grade student also from the Lomonosov education system, found his passion for programming robot movements through participation in STEM competitions.

"It is quite fun when our robots can work with those of other teams. They are very friendly and we have also learnt more about the way they build their robots and how they program them. We're really grateful to my school for investing in our club by providing us with robotics equipment, a practice field, and even financial support to participate in competitions," Duc told The Hanoi Times.

  

Educators become more STEM-aware


While STEM education has only recently found its way into official guidelines, several initiatives have been launched across Hanoi to give students of all ages access to this interdisciplinary approach to learning.

Delegates visit the STEM product exhibition area of students from Phu Son Primary School in Hanoi's Ba Vi district at the IT and STEM Festival 2023. Photo: Congnghevadoisong.vn

STEM education has been identified as a focus for  the general education curriculum, according to the Vietnamese government's Directive 16/CT-TTg in 2017.

According to Dr Tuong Duy Hai, STEM education expert at the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), it plays an important role in career guidance.

"Statistics from the MoET show that public schools are interested in promoting STEM education and have set the goal of developing skills and guiding students towards technology-related careers," Hai told Hanoimoi.

Drawing on international experience is a popular approach for most STEM-minded educational institutions, as domestically developed curricula are still finding their place.

"International cooperation in STEM education is the right move now to save time and increase efficiency, as our own development cannot be achieved overnight," Hai added.

He cited the example of the STEM Innovation Camp 2022, which is a collaboration between the MoET's Department of Secondary Education and the Kenan Foundation Asia from 2021 to 2025.

"This event has been implemented in 28 secondary schools in Hanoi and aims to create an environment where students can participate in scientific activities while improving their soft skills and love for science and technology," said Hai.

He noted that the project focuses on training core teachers to develop STEM curricula under the guidance of international experts from the US, Japan and Thailand.

Dr Le Chi Ngoc of HUST cited international lessons from the US and Europe, where education for technology-oriented students is well structured from an early age.

"This allows them to develop the ability to think creatively and build basic skills so that when they enter university, they can develop the ability to innovate and adapt to solve bigger problems," Ngoc told The Hanoi Times.