21st Century Skills and STEM Education

21st Century skills integrate mastery of traditional skills in English, Maths, Science, ICT and Finance, with the skills of collaboration, communication and problem-solving. We believe we must develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, creativity, communication and collaboration skills, as it is these competencies that help us approach complex problems that face the world. Finally, to thrive in our changing environment we believe we must instil the character qualities of curiosity, initiative, persistence, adaptability, leadership and social and cultural awareness.


The acronym “STEM” stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, however, STEM Education is so much more.  STEM Education provides a framework for thinking and learning and it is for this reason that it combines so well with developing 21st Century Skills.

What does STEM Education look like at Pensmith STEM International?

2015 saw a historic agreement between 193 counties.  This agreement resulted in the development of 17 sustainable development goals with the aim to make the world a better place.  These goals include for example an End to Poverty, tackling Climate Change and Education for All.



Each of the 17 goals present challenges to be addressed.  At Pensmith STEM International, we use these 17 goals to provide the themes for our learning.  The themes have a duration of approximately 1 month.  During the theme, the students are assigned specific projects and activities (which we refer to as STEM projects).  During these projects students work on real-world problems and challenges, and therefore can contribute towards finding potential solutions to the UN sustainability goals.

Knowledge, Skills and Understanding from the British Curriculum are developed in an integrated way.  Students are learning and putting into practice their knowledge and understanding to develop answers to real work problems. For example, within the Life on Land goal students are learn about habitats (Geography and Science), how to help protect endangered animals (Science) and about 2D and 3D shapes (Maths) and friction (Physics) to create defences against landslides (Technology and Engineering).


To be successful in these projects our students must also develop and use their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, their creativity, communication and collaboration skills. They must be adaptable, curious, and use their initiative and persistence to create viable solutions.  These are all important 21st Century skills preparing the students for now and the future.