In today’s ever-changing and dynamic technological world, the need to mitigate economic and environmental problems is paramount. Recent data indicates that the United States is falling short when it comes to delivering STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning skills to our children. Are we equipping the next generation of children with the ability to tackle modern challenges? In most cases, human resource is playing catch-up to the rapidly accelerating technological evolution.
Taking on the challenge
Changing the attitude and perception of STEM is a critical first step. We need to encourage our children to create the video games they love playing. Think of how empowering it would be for a child to design an Angry Birds video game!
Inspire kids to build toys that they want to play with or to modify old, broken down toys set aside for the dump. This shift from ‘consumer’ to ‘maker’ will help build an analytical, creative, and science savvy mind.
There is a lot that can be done in your own home. Start with fun research projects or have family trivia nights by investigating volcanoes or studying the stars.
Is your child into comics? Download Scratch, popular programming software for kids, and use it to design games and introduce programming basics.
Having your children be science-literate and approach the subject with curiosity rather than anxiety is critical to opening the doors to future STEM opportunities.
Analyzing and tabulating scientific data skills could be developed by simply starting a science journal of bugs or leaves. Have your children expand their minds by careful observation of colors, textures, size, even smell! Take your little scientist to the next level by joining a local independent group forum like Citizen Science, where he or she can share data collection and learn one of the pillars in the scientific community, collaboration.
Envision the future
Foresight can inspire us to develop dynamic, analytical thinkers for jobs that are not yet even invented. Just recently I ran across a new science term: “connectomics.” I dug deeper and discovered that this relatively new application could potentially have an impact comparable to the Human Genome Project.
Connectomics is a neural mapping in the body. Currently the application is focused on the brain; however, theoretically, any neural connection can be mapped. Connectomics can help compare healthy neural mapping with diseased neural mapping and develop suitable treatment. This is just one example of a skill that had not yet been developed several years ago.
Start at your kitchen counter
As mentioned, you don’t have to even leave your home to create a STEM-friendly environment. On the following page are simple experiments that you can do with your child using supplies from your local grocery store. Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Math and science curricula that spark curiosity should nurture and encourage questioning, communication, creativity and collaboration. The purpose of these activities is to engage your children in science related activities and give them the chance to ask questions, experience, and explore the world of science.