Why you should embed ethics into your STEM practice

Updated: Mar 31

March 31st, 2021

Andrés Porras


Why you should embed ethics into your STEM practice

You’ve been teaching STEM for years, it’s become so embedded into your practice that your students are advanced Scratch Creators, they can use loops and variables, and are even starting to code in more advanced languages such as python and javascript. However, as STEM educators, we can forget a critical component of their learning, which is the responsibility they now have to use their coding for things that benefit humanity, not harm it.

Why is it important to teach ethics with coding?

Coding is a tool, and it’s a very powerful one in today’s world. Like any tool, it can be used for the betterment of society, such as by creating an app that helps you track forest fire sightings, or it can be used to the detriment of society, such as by creating a video game that mocks, or makes fun of a classmate. If we only teach students about a tool, but not about the responsibility they have to use it wisely, they’ll be missing out on a crucial 21st century skill of responsibility, communication in a diverse environment, and leadership and initiative.

Implementing it properly

There’s no right or wrong way to implement ethics into your STEM, STEAM, or iSTEAM practice. What’s important is that it comes from a place of authenticity, provides your students with critical thinking skills, and doesn’t stifle their creativity. For example, if you’re teaching a course on video game creation, you could have students reflect on different video games to see if they have a net positive or a net negative for society.

Whenever I do this, I always explain to the students that this doesn’t mean that a video game has to be educational, you could be doing a net positive for society by providing an experience