The world is changing faster than ever. With rapid population growth, economic transformation and huge advances in technology, one big question stands out: are our future leaders being properly prepared for this era of change?

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, known as STEM, is critically important in enabling people to adapt to a rapidly changing world. Unfortunately, not enough young people are being motivated to pursue careers in these areas, and even fewer are being equipped with STEM skills such as problem solving or critical thinking.

That is why, in 2016, Shell launched NXplorers, a global education programme that introduces young people to the challenges of solving complex problems, equipping them with the tools and skills needed to create sustainable change.

STEM in the Caribbean

In May 2018, Shell Trinidad and Tobago hosted a STEM Education National Consultation event. The event brought together more than 200 students, parents, teachers and representatives from the local Ministry of Education to discuss and debate how to better integrate STEM subjects and skills into the local curriculum.

“STEM education is very important,” said Anthony Garcia, Minister of Education for Trinidad and Tobago. “Science, technology, engineering and maths infiltrate every aspect of our daily lives, and Trinidad and Tobago needs a STEM educated workforce to stay competitive,” he added.

The event also saw the launch of the first NXplorers workshop in the region. Attended by more than 40 educators, teachers and representatives from the Ministry of Education, it focused on helping participants develop key skills like problem solving and critical thinking that could be passed on to their students.

Group of ladies
As part of the NXplorers workshop participants chose a global problem that they wanted to solve

Learning to question

At the start of the two-day workshop participants were asked to decide on a global challenge or problem that they wanted to solve.

From “How can renewable energy be used in food production?” to “What is the best way to manage water resources during a dry season?” or “How can waste products be used to make energy?” the focus was on creating an environment in which people wanted to both ask questions and find solutions.

Participants were encouraged to examine their chosen challenge from different perspectives, explore what could happen if their problem didn’t get solved, suggest possible solutions to their issue and evaluate the feasibility of their different solutions.

Tariq Hussain, Shell’s STEM Manager, summed up the workshop: “It’s about encouraging a mindset change,” he said. “The question posed to young people should not just be ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ but also ‘What problem do you want to solve?’.”

By the end of the workshop, each group had developed a plausible action plan that could be used to solve their chosen problem.

An Nxplorers future

Throughout 2018 Shell has continued to roll out the Nxplorers programme around the world, conducting workshops in Brazil, Nigeria, India, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Philippines, Qatar, Oman and Egypt. There are plans to expand to new countries in 2019 and the goal is to have more than 1 million young people worldwide participate in the programme by 2020.

NXplorers was developed by Shell and Shaping Learning. To find out more about NXplorers visit the programme’s website.

Please visit Shell’s education page to learn more about STEM programmes in other countries.

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