Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Importance of Collaboration in STEM

By Sam Piha

We recently took note of this Education Week article entitled “Science Is a Team Sport” promoting the importance of collaboration in STEM activities. (Collaboration is one of the five LIAS learning principles).

The article opens by reporting, “Hollywood's version of science—the lone genius toiling in the basement, the socially awkward computer engineer—stands in stark contrast to the real life, increasingly team-oriented work in science and engineering fields. A new study suggests correcting that misconception could encourage more American students to engage in science.” A similar article appeared in the NAA newsletter entitled Boost Learning By Combining Teamwork and STEM.

Dr. Carol Tang
We asked Carol Tang, Executive Director at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco and Former Director of the Coalition for Science After School, to comment on this. Below, we share her remarks. 

“One of the most interesting learning principles in my mind is the one about collaboration. Because studies have shown that one of the reasons young people do not go into science is because they think that scientists work alone and they're isolated. In fact, most scientists would think that they're very collaborative in their work. 

A lot of big teams are needed to really tackle some of the biggest questions in science. If you think about looking for life on other planets or you think about how to invent new medicine, all of those take a team of scientists and engineers to work together. 

For scientists, we think of our work as collaborative. We email people all over the world with our ideas and we hear their criticism and their critiques and that's how we do science. 

Photo Credit:

For scientists, collaboration is a key part of what we do everyday. Yet most young people think that scientists work alone in their labs blowing things up. And so I think I like the collaboration learning principle and to make sure that when we do science, we encourage people to think of science as a collaborative effort because that's what it is in today's society.”

You can view Dr. Tang’s entire interview here. 

Carol M. Tang, Ph.D. is the Executive Director at the Children’s Creativity Museum (SF) and former Director of the Coalition for Science After School. She is experienced in non-profit management, strategic planning, envisioning, meeting facilitation, team building, fundraising and public speaking. She also has extensive experience in teaching, organizing, and leading science education efforts including out-of-school programming, exhibitions, teacher professional development, public programs, volunteer management and higher education. 


You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 

  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

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