New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Our Phobia, their Fear: the Impact of Neophobia on STEM/STEAM Education

Marquita Blades, Dr. Blades Consulting (United States)


By nature, children are inquisitive. They ask “why?” Without being prompted, children attempt to discover more about their surroundings. Children freely explore until they are taught not to. What messages are unknowingly conveyed to children that discourage them from responding to their natural tendency to explore and ask questions? This presentation will open the discussion around the unintentional installation of fear in children, based on one’s own fears or beliefs, that later impacts their attitudes towards learning, especially within the STEM/STEAM fields. STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics, while STEAM represents Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics; both of which are currently the primary area of focus for many school districts and learning enrichment programs.  With the rate and scope of technological advances being introduced daily, there are hardly enough students being prepared to meet the demands that this growth places on our job market. Current K-12 STEM Educators, post-secondary STEM Educator, and leaders in the STEM fields could benefit from learning the barriers to preparing students’ interest in STEM/STEAM fields in order to overcome them and prepare students to compete in this arena. From this presentation, participants will learn to identify characteristics of students who are resisting learning experiences due to fear. This presentation will also identify some of the cultural beliefs and norms that discourage the naturally inquisitive nature of children. Finally, attendees will learn strategies that can be used to help students overcome their fears and become more engaged in STEM/STEAM. 

Keywords: STEM, STEAM, K-12, instructional strategies, student motivation, science teaching;

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