Society fights for the future of its children. Parent constantly worry if their kids can make it in tomorrow’s job market. Are there going to be any careers available? How do parents need to prepare their children for the future?
One such way is to foster an interest in and appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Studies have shown that children who develop an understanding of STEM disciplines have higher degrees of achievement later on in life. These scientific pursuits are also integral in building the professional futures of children. What about cuts to education budgets? Don’t those make it difficult to give children access to STEM education materials? Yes, but there are ways to make those materials more effective. Here are five suggestions for improving STEM education.
1. Start Early
Some parents may fear overwhelming their young children with scientific or technological information. Since these disciplines tend to get complex, they have a negative stigma attached to them. However, research shows that exposing children to STEM concepts in early elementary school helps promote a lifelong interest in the subjects. Grade school often stresses creativity and self-expression. It is equally important to emphasize logical and critical thinking.
2. Teach Often
Don’t settle for a weekly block of computer class or experiments. Elevate science and technology to the same level of importance as reading and mathematics. Many studies have shown that time set aside for science has fallen as low as an hour per week. While math education has seen marked increases in the last decade, schools must give the same reverence to science and technology.
3. Encourage Students
With STEM, there are near limitless possibilities to get students interested. They can apply the concepts they learn in science and mathematics in creative ways. Encourage students to explore how these subjects can help them better understand their world. Give time to activities like building wooden cars or documenting the characteristics of bug species on campus. Allow students to record their observations and develop questions based on their experiments.
4. Make It Relevant
STEM concepts do not exist in a vacuum. Always be sure to provide the real applications of important concepts. Teach young scientists that the interesting ways they can analyze the world can help solve problems and rise to modern challenges.
The sciences have historically been something of a boys’ club. Encourage all students to explore STEM subjects. Especially girls. Science and mathematics programs have always tended to favor males. With the expanding job market and the importance of inclusivity, getting girls involved in STEM programs and careers is more important than ever.
How do you think STEM education will impact the future? Should schools do more to promote science and technology-centered education? How do you think extracurricular activities can assist in improving these programs? Share your thoughts in the comments below.