This blog recently discussed how educators can encourage STEM education in the classroom by finding unique ways to teach. But how can we promote STEM outside of school? That task falls upon parents, families, and the wider community. When it comes to working with youngsters, whether that be your child or a group of their friends, be sure to take every opportunity you can to emphasize the importance and excitement of STEM!
As we’ve said time and time again on this blog, STEM is all about the interconnectivity between science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as their connections with the world as a whole. Students, particularly those on the younger end of the spectrum, aren’t always hyper-aware of their potential or what the world offers in terms of future careers. That’s why Discovery Education suggests parents read with young learners, exposing them to stories of STEM industry heroes and the magic of science.
When your children come home from school, take some time to discuss their science lessons, relating subjects like animals and computers to the world around you. Perhaps a fourth-grade student learning about the planets might be enriched by a peek through a telescope, or a student studying the invention of computers could benefit from a visit to a technology-based museum. Try to demonstrate the importance of STEM as four interrelated components of everyday life.
As a rule, parents should support any positive habits in their children, whether they be art-based or STEM-based. When it comes to the latter, it may be more difficult for non-STEM parents to orient themselves to their children’s interests. In that case, let the tables turn—ask the child to teach you. Show that you care about their passions, and encourage them to seek out like-minded individuals. You could also look for community events, clubs, and get-togethers focused on STEM education for children. There are bound to be plenty of STEM happenings in your area, and taking your excited child will help them make connections with other passionate youngsters.
Diversity rates amongst STEM professionals have remained quite low for far too long. If your child has a knack for STEM but can’t seem to find heroes in their industry of choice, take some time to help them out. Try watching Hidden Figures, the biographical drama about female African American mathematicians fighting to make their mark at NASA during the Space Race, and discuss how these women stood up to racial and gender-based discrimination to make a difference in the world. Share news stories from around the world about inventors going head-to-head with issues in their hometowns, such as a lack of water or high pollution. Let your child know that gender, race, and other characteristics do not determine ability or success—it is passion that lets you succeed!