In today’s modern world, it’s no secret that careers in the technology fields are highly coveted. When students have a personal interest in scientific subjects, they are more likely to pursue success in these areas. Here’s our advice on how to spark interest in STEM (science, technology, math, engineering) subjects!
1. Building toys. Construction toys and building sets are an excellent way to immerse your children in STEM subjects. Working with these toys not only requires kids to follow instructions and work with geometric shapes, but also introduces concepts dealing with architecture, space-planning, measurement, structural stability, and more. Building sets with moving parts are even better, especially for older students – models with gears and pulleys illustrate the utility of simple machines, and more complex sets can introduce scientific concepts in physics like momentum, energy, resistance, etc. Both Lego and K’Nex are popular for their educational applications, but even younger children can enjoy these same benefits from simpler building sets like Tinkertoy or Lincoln Logs.
2. Educational programs and films. Documentaries, nature specials, and science channels are all great ways to encourage an interest in scientific fields. Television shows like How It’s Made are ideal examples of how mechanical engineering is crucial in modern manufacturing. A series like BBC’s Planet Earth provides a fascinating look into the animal kingdom, earth’s geography, and how ecosystems work. Fictional programs can be engaging and inspiring as well – from space travel to dinosaurs, if it involves science and technology it’s worth checking out!
3. Video games. Although we often think of video games as a recreational activity, they can also be incredibly useful educational tools. Video games can do a great job of illustrating difficult scientific concepts – popular games like Kerbal Space Program, for example, incorporate physics and scientific principles of rocketry and aerodynamics. Even simpler games (take Minecraft for instance) involve working with structures and units. For more great suggestions on educational video games, check out our blog “The Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games.”
4. At-home science projects. Science projects don’t have to be limited to the classroom – you can try your own experiments at home! Conducting an experiment is a ton of fun for kids, and there are plenty of awesome science projects you can create using common household items. Check out our blog on this topic, “Awesome Science Experiments You Can Try At Home.”
Note: These next two suggestions might not be possible right now due to public health guidelines regarding social distancing. However, they are both great options to consider once deemed safe by local officials, so definitely keep them in mind!
5. Museums. Science museums are a blast for kids of all ages, and they’re a great way to encourage hands-on activities that demonstrate scientific principles. Interactive exhibits allow kids to see the real-life applications of science and technology and can help bridge academic connections with what they are learning in school. Many museums have virtual tours that let you experience the exhibits from your own home. Be sure to check your local museums to see what they have to offer.
6. School electives. Encourage your kids to participate in science fairs, field trips, and clubs. Many schools offer additional resources as well as extracurricular activities for attending students, and your kids can take advantage of these opportunities! For older students, attending tech fairs or trade shows are also excellent ways to make professional connections and explore future career options.