National STEM Day – Thursday, November 8 – is a day to inspire students to explore interests related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the number of STEM-related jobs grew by 10.5% between 2009 and 2015 whereas non-STEM jobs only grew by 5.2%. This trend is expected to continue. For example, between 2014 – 2024, the average expected growth rate for all occupations is 6.5%, but for mathematical science occupations, it is 28.2%.
As these changes take place, it’s important to prepare students and get them interested in STEM from an early age. Many students often shy away from subjects like math and science, saying “it’s too hard.” By creating interest at an early age, this can be avoided and more students will be open to studying these fields in high school and post-secondary education.
How to Create Interest Around STEM
There are many ways to create interest around STEM in the classroom and at home. Try out some of these ideas:
Show kids that STEM is a part of everyday life
Although you may not realize it, STEM is a part of almost everything you do. Getting kids involved with some of these activities, can help spark an interest in STEM:
- Cooking and baking
- Budgeting and shopping (grocery shopping is a great and easy place to start!)
- Music and rhythm (teach them how to play an instrument – and yes, pots and pans count!)
Art exhibits, historic museums, aquariums, science centers, the list is endless. Visiting museums can help kids explore STEM areas in fun and interactive ways. Get them to participate in interactive exhibits, ask them questions while walking around, and give them a journal so they can take notes on what they learned. If you notice that they are showing interest at a particular exhibit, follow-up after your visit and help them explore that area further.
Getting active outdoors is an easy way to introduce kids to STEM themes. Going for a nature walk around the neighbourhood or a nearby park is a great way to start exploring! If you’re feeling more adventurous, head out for a hike and investigate the different flora and fauna in your area. You can also start a garden to teach kids not only about STEM, but also about responsibility as they learn to care for plants themselves. If you don’t have room to start your own garden at your home or school, look into finding a community garden where you can rent space to grow!
Build something together
There are many building tools and toys available for kids. Some great options include LEGO, Play-Doh, and building blocks. You can also check out this great list of the 20 Best Building Toys for Kids in 2018. All of these tools help kids develop problem-solving and creativity skills and will get them excited about STEM subjects. Alternatively, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get kids building. Get creative by using materials you already have around your home or classroom. Use shoeboxes, bags, pool noodles, tupperware, anything! To get kids to really think, challenge them to build a Rube Goldberg machine. You just might be surprised by what they create!
Peekapak is Encouraging STEM for Everyone
At the very core of Peekapak is our mission to help all children around the world succeed. Listening to the thoughts of over 300 early childhood educators, we’ve designed a curriculum and book series featuring a balance of female and male characters interested in a variety of subjects. These interests range from programming to robotics to music and include strong characters in STEM roles. Lucia uses electrical engineering to make everything light up; Inés is a computer programming whiz; Menka has a passion for architecture; Zoey loves biology; and Saffron the Skunk uses chemistry to whip up delicious snacks.
To learn more about how Peekapak can fuel kids’ curiosity for STEM, visit our site or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Happy STEMing!