Failure is Advantageous

Failure is Advantageous

Failure is merely progress. Engineers, inventors and designers understand that it permits them to restart the design and development process and allows them to imagine new and improved designs (Petroski 2018). With the right STEM curricula, educators can inspire learners to adopt this mindset, changing their view of failure for a lifetime.

Embracing failure makes learners stronger. With practice, they gain a passion for innovation, improve their ability to think creatively and become more adept at solving problems.

PCS Edventures' quality STEM programs encourage learners to use failure as a springboard for growth. These techniques are prevalent across each of our products. So if you’re planning A Year of STE(A)M Enrichment or simply searching for activities that nurture a growth mindset, we have programs for you! Join us as we explore how STEM empowers learners, making it easy to set them up for success.

What Learners Gain from Failure:

A Drive for Further Innovation:

There’s a contagious joy that spreads among groups of learners immersed in a design challenge. It’s fascinating to watch their excitement grow with every attempt. As they experience the highs and lows of problem-solving together, their struggle intensifies and often results in a passion for continued discovery.

Let’s be honest, success is exhilarating! It motivates learners to innovate further, broadening their accomplishments. But the failures they encounter along the way make those achievements even sweeter. Overcoming obstacles drives learners to create more challenging, efficient, or complex ways to expand upon prior knowledge. All of our programs promote this culture of collective growth.

Instructors should also take advantage of the flexibility built into each lesson by providing additional support or opportunities for further exploration. Effective STEM activities bring content to life and spark learners’ curiosity. This brings questions and ideas that they’ll want time to pursue. Whether their endeavors meet success or failure, they’ll gain valuable skills they can later apply to more complex tasks.

Flexibility in Thinking:

We’ve seen how failure can drive exploration, but that’s not the case for everyone. What about learners who struggle to cope with it? They may feel frustrated, embarrassed, or angry and not know how to express those feelings appropriately. Learning environments that embrace STEM for SEL Support provide a supportive, safe space for learners to practice just that.

STEM fosters self-regulation, helping learners manage the big emotions that come with experiencing failure. Thinking through situations in multiple ways makes learners better equipped to deal with uncertainty, manage change, and solve problems. This is better known as developing a flexible mindset.

PCS Edventures programs continuously remind learners that failure is awesome. With each setback comes the opportunity to learn from mistakes and set new goals. Learners gain confidence in their abilities as they continue to practice and are encouraged by instructors and peers, knowing that failure is not a barrier to success. Instead, they’re empowered to find creative ways to accomplish the task at hand.

Effective Problem-Solving Strategies:

The best way to learn is to grapple with problems firsthand. With our activity-based curriculum, learners are involved in every step of the learning process. Learners take an active role in tackling low-stakes problems by planning for challenges (sketching out designs, gathering information, etc.) and analyzing the results.

An engineering design approach to problem-solving embodies the kind of application-based, iterative discovery we emphasize in our programs. As learners encounter new challenges, they tend to favor one of these two common problem-solving strategies:

  • Trial and Error
  • Academic Analysis

Both are rooted in failure. The former relies solely on guesswork. The latter aims for perfection from the start. Each strategy tends to result in frustration on its own. Instead, coach learners to find a balance between these two extremes. By taking time to craft a plan and relying on their instincts, learners develop the skills they need to guide them toward success.

Find Success with Quality STEM Products:

So much success comes from experiencing failure within a supportive learning environment. Our STEM programs provide learners with authentic opportunities to be innovative and creative problem-solvers while helping them take risks to further their learning. Explore our various online STEM collections using filters to find the right program for you.

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It’s never too late to reimagine new and improved STEM instruction for your learning environment.

Educators, asSTEMble!

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Author: Jessica Ventre

An experienced elementary educator and science instructional coach, Jessica’s passion for STEM instruction and student-led learning is always at the forefront of her lessons and professional development workshops.


Petroski, H. (2018). SUCCESS AND FAILURE IN DESIGN. In Success through Failure: The Paradox of Design (NED-New edition, pp. 44–80). Princeton University Press.

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