The Importance of STEM Education.
The Rise of STEM:
Starting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education early is imperative in today’s society where technology is rapidly changing and evolving. In the short span of a couple of decades, we have seen the advent of electric cars, smartphones as well as increased accessibility to knowledge at your fingertips through lightning-speed Internet and search engines such as Google.
We have also seen the increased intersection between education and technology, no better exemplified than through the ongoing pandemic where educators have worked tirelessly to shift their instruction style to a form that can accommodate students learning at home on their computers with applications such as Zoom. According to the U.S Census, “Nearly 93% of people in households with school-age children reported their children engaged in some form of “distance learning.”
Moreover, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics states that “STEM Jobs are projected to grow 8.8% between 2017 and 2029, compared to 3.7% for other occupations.” The jobs in these fields include computing and engineering as well as advanced manufacturing. As outlined, the importance and relevance of STEM within our lives, both professionally and personally, will only keep growing. If you are wondering how to introduce STEM concepts to your children in an engaging manner that doesn’t sacrifice fun, continue reading! We’ll talk about themed learning as well as easy ways to give your child a technical literacy that will allow them to flourish now and later in life, in an increasingly STEM saturated society.
One of the most effective ways to teach children and sustain their attention is through the idea of themed learning. This goes for introducing your children to STEM topics as well! What is themed learning? It’s focusing on a specific topic and exploring it through a variety of mediums so that they recognize what they are learning as meaningful and not just a grade or something that they have to memorize and recite back.
A lot of STEM learning takes place or even begins in schools, where teachers are given a set curriculum that they teach in-depth, using the tenets of themed learning. For example, children may learn about measurement not only by learning what the marks on a ruler mean but by using a ruler and measuring different objects.
However, an interest that is only fostered within the school environment can sometimes be difficult to sustain. In 2019, the US Census reported that women remain statistically underrepresented in STEM, making up “about 27% of STEM workers in 2019 in the United States,” and that according to a PEW Research survey students don’t pursue STEM degrees because they “think these subjects are too hard.” The reality of this statistic shows that somewhere along the lines, kids and especially girls decide to not pursue STEM-related fields despite the increase in STEM-related jobs.
Themed learning can be used to engage with your children about STEM topics, outside what they learn in school in order to sustain interest and excitement about the field! This doesn’t have to be a daunting or time-consuming endeavor as there are so many resources online including YouTube videos and STEM-themed games. Playzenik.com offers an online learning platform that combines traditional learning (lessons), interactive learning (games and quizzes), and hands-on learning by sending a DIY STEM kit straight to your house. The combination not only ensures a comprehensive education but makes learning about these topics meaningful and relevant to their own learning style and encourages an interest outside of what is being learned in school where there is often pressure to achieve certain grades.
Themed learning can also be executed by watching STEM videos with your children! There are so many resources to be found through a simple search and offer a great opportunity for dialogue after, where you can talk to your child about what they have learned or what they are confused about. Plus, these videos are just as fun and engaging as Paw Patrol or Baby Shark!
Speaking of the array of learning resources that can easily be found on the Internet, introducing your child to STEM concepts at an early age also builds a relationship between them and the devices they are using and will continue to use as they grow older.
For example, many children learn tactile functions through using an iPad, simply by watching YouTube videos and tapping the screen. However, children today often do not think about how the images on screen came to be, or investigate to find out. With the overabundance of technology and media, simply introducing the concept of coding can dramatically redefine a child’s relationship to the devices they use to consume their favorite content. You can also:
- Introduce Java, Python, and HTML as just another language they can learn. Just as how people communicate with each other in different languages such as English, Spanish, or Mandarin — computers use a language made up of strings of numbers and specific words that do specific things!
- Never pass up an opportunity to remind them that games, websites, and videos are created by people! Children can become so immersed in games and forget that they are more than just a means of entertainment, but also the result of creativity and hard work. Let your child know that the games they love are created by real people and that they could even create a game that people love just as much one day as well!
The world of STEM is wonderful, wide, and only getting bigger, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming! As parents, you can take small steps to engage and incite or renew your child’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
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Tasha Lee is a recent graduate and budding writer with a keen interest in education — Whether that be through tutoring or providing live captions in order to make education more accessible. Currently, she is working at TechZenik, a company with one main motive: offering comprehensive STEM education to young children in order to afford them more opportunities later in life and doing this in a way that is as barrier-free and inclusive as possible!