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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Classroom Corner| Free online tool encourages STEM exploration, discovery and learning

THE National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) has developed an online, interactive, virtual landscape aimed at stimulating learners’ curiosity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. 

The STEMulator portal provides a highly interactive knowledge and exploration environment, crammed with animated and visual educational content, which entices audience through curiosity and fun.

The STEM

ulator landscape includes the built world, such as buildings, structures and machines; living organisms, including humans, animals and plants and complex systems like the natural cycle of water or the workings of a wind turbine.

Each layer of the STEMulator allows the user to delve deeper into the object or intricate system being explored, deconstructing it visually and providing learners with a detailed view of the hidden parts of the subject being explored.

The explorer enters the STEMulator world through a master landscape, which displays a variety of clickable areas, representing fields of interest.

The user clicks on one of the areas to see it deconstruct to reveal an overview of the elements.

For example, clicking on the STEMulator car allows it to expand into its various parts, and clicking specifically on the engine of the car gives the user a view of its inner workings.

NSTF has introduced the platform to potential contributors and users all over South Africa and the STEMulator team welcomes any contributors in the STEM environment, to help expand the content available on the platform.

Contributors can add to a number of  STEM-related topics, such as:

  • The natural world
    • Plants, insects, agriculture
    • Human beings, doctors
    • Weather, sun, water, scientists
    • The earth, land, geologists
  • The built world
    • Transport, cars, planes, trains,
    • The home, household appliances
    • Communication, cellphones, TVs, satellites

The STEMulator includes curriculum-related content, with the objective of encouraging maths and science education and learning, while also creating awareness of fields of study and career options.

The playful exploration design of the platform aims to make it engaging and fun for learners. The organisation affirms that its initial tests have revealed huge demand for interactive learning products.

The STEMulator is a free tool requiring only access to data or WiFi and it can be operated across various platforms and devices, enabling mass distribution to all areas.

An offline version is also available for schools or institutions that do not have access to the internet. The STEMulator portal can be accessed at www.stemulator.org 

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