The STEM-Innovation and Design (STEM-ID) courses promote 21st Century Skills such as creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication, and they emphasize the value of teamwork. These valuable skills are critical in today’s global workplace.

Students engage and practice 21st Century skills in STEM-ID by using the Engineering Design Process (EDP) within a design challenge context. Using the EDP, students identify and define the problem, brainstorm possible solutions, plan, create, and test a design, and then improve upon it. Each step of the process requires youth to think critically about the criteria and constraints of their challenges. Furthermore, the EDP is iterative and requires youth to continually assess their designs’ ability to solve the problem.

STEM-ID design challenges also require students to work within teams, which provides an opportunity for them to practice collaboration skills. Students within their teams must negotiate as they engineer their designs and identify areas for improvement. When working on STEM-ID challenges, students often have ideas that they are really excited about. This provides great intrinsic motivation for them to communicate clearly with their group members. At the end of each design challenge, students present their solutions to others, giving them the opportunity to improve their presentation and communication skills.