Initiated by the National Science Foundation, STEM education refers to an educational approach that focuses on one or more of the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math, explained Bright Horizons, a US-based childcare provider.
Technical and scientific skills are becoming more important in the workplace so it is important for kids to be exposed to STEM education as early as possible. Both boys and girls should be encouraged to take an interest in STEM fields. Remember, parents, it is never too late to explore the world of STEM and be the next innovator.
Perceptions of STEM Among Parents and Students
Microsoft Corporation commissioned Harris Interactive, a full-service, digital consultative custom market research agency, and found that 50% of parents want their child to pursue a STEM career unlike 42% of parents who said their child wants to pursue it. Fathers (57%) were more likely than mothers (44%) to say they want their child to pursue a career in STEM.
When asked about the state of STEM education in the US, 95% of STEM college students and 94% of parents of K-12 students agreed with the need for a stronger emphasis on STEM to equip future US generations with 21st-century skills like critical thinking. 87% of STEM college students and 93% of parents of K-12 students said preparing students for careers in STEM should be a top priority for US schools. 76% of parents said the US is doing a poor job of teaching STEM compared to other countries unlike 66% of STEM college students.
When asked why preparing students for STEM careers should be a top priority for US schools, 53% said it is to ensure that the country remains competitive in the global marketplace. 51% said it is to produce the next generation of innovators. 44% stated that it is to prepare individuals that are equipped to find solutions to the world’s problems and 42% said most or all jobs will require at least a basic understanding of math and science in the future. 36% said it is to allow students to have well-paying careers in the future and 30% answered that it is to enable students to have fulfilling careers.
On the other hand, college students chose STEM degrees because it offers a good salary out of school (68%) and it is intellectually stimulating/challenging (68%). Other reasons mentioned by the students were job potential (66%), passion (54%), they have always enjoyed games and more about the subject (45%), they received good grades in the subject in school (43%), and they want to make a difference (39%).
25% said the US needs college graduates focused on STEM fields and 19% said a family member has a similar education/career. Only 17% said they were encouraged by a teacher or guidance counselor and 6% admitted that their parents told them they had to take a STEM degree.
73% of STEM students also said it is absolutely essential/extremely important to have a passion for it to aid in their success. 67% said it’s studying hard wand 48% answered it is going to a good college. Other factors that the students deemed absolutely essential/extremely important to their success are supportive parents (42%), a good K-12 education (31%), having a good mentor (30%), and having a role model (19%).
How to Pique Your Child’s Interest In STEM
1. Make A Snack
It’s not a strange combination at all. In fact, snacks can be used as an avenue to test your child’s engineering skills, stated Idaho Falls Magazine, which aims to share the good news of Eastern Idaho. You can prepare cubes of apples and cheese and even marshmallows.
Use toothpicks to help your child build a structure with the cubes of food. It is recommended to challenge your child to build a structure that won’t follow using those cubes. Ask your child, “Who can build a sturdy structure? Whose structure will be the tallest?” Your child may build a castle, a village, or their dream gym. Let their imagination run wild! This activity tests your little one’s creativity and problem-solving skills and fosters an engineering mindset. By the end of the activity, your child will be able to enjoy a delicious snack.
2. Help Them Learn the Binary Alphabet
Use Legos or other blocks to introduce them to the binary alphabet to build their knowledge of computer programming. Tell your child that computers use a series of zeroes and ones and find a key to the binary alphabet on the internet. Using the blocks, assign one color to be ones and another to be zeroes.
Then, have your child string words or phrases using those blocks. Instruct your child to use the blocks to write their name or anything they are familiar with. Once they are comfortable using the blocks to construct words or phrases, ask them, “What would it be like if you had to use the binary alphabet to write your own schoolwork?”
3. Build Better Observation Skills
Individuals need to be a good observer and you can improve your child’s observation skills by playing games that involve examination and critical thinking. For example, you can play the “I Spy” game and take turns being the observer and questioner.
Another alternative is “20 questions,” in which the guesser gets 20 “yes-no” questions. The guesser then attempts to find out what the questioner is asking about. However, the object in question does not need to be within the guesser’s field of vision. You can also help your child discern patterns that are present in nature or are made by humans. For example, you and your child can look for repeating numbers or letters on a license plate or rings on a tree trunk.
4. Reflect With Your Child
This is the most important aspect of learning. After an experiment, for instance, ask your child what they have learned and help them understand that experiments do not always work as they expect them. Tell them that they may learn new ways to solve problems or create something better.
Boys and girls should be encouraged to take STEM fields. STEM knows no gender and it can help individuals make a difference or innovate something new. For kids to foster their love for STEM, parents should take the time to create activities that help build critical thinking and observation skills.