STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) is truly the future. As the world progresses more into the digital age, these subjects and industries are what will propel businesses and brands to new heights. While many want to be the "Beyoncé of the show," the real impact and work comes from those in these respective fields, who are working hard behind the scenes to ensure the wheels keep turning. For international STEM educator, advocate and STEM™* brand partner, Saki Milton, exposing and getting your young learners interested in the sciences early on is crucial.
"STEM education is rooted in hands-on learning and problem-solving, with the goal of setting kids up to thrive in future careers within these areas," Milton explains. "With how STEM-related careers are expected to grow in the next decade, childhood curiosity can lead to a career that could last a lifetime. Do you have a kid that’s interested in space? Experience endless exploration through astronomy. Obsessed with animals? Maybe zoology is for them. How about insects? Well, believe it or not, there’s a perfect job out there for them too!"
With children back in the classrooms this season, we asked the expert to share a few tips for parents looking to further encourage and nurture their kid's interests in the various fields.
Start with simple nature exploration
Getting children interested in science at an early age is key to encouraging their exploration and curiosity, and the natural world is a perfect starting point to engage kids in conversations about science. The next time your family is hanging out in the backyard, heading to the park, or even just talking a walk around the block, encourage kids to take in the vibrant ecosystem around them, which is full of living organisms that depend on each other for survival.
"Nurture their interest by encouraging hands-on examination, fostering questions, and showing how science connects to the real world," she shares.
Show vs. tell
"In my experience, it is easiest for kids to learn and grasp new concepts when there is a tangible outcome of their work. For example, absorbing information about chemistry from a textbook is much more difficult than seeing chemistry happen in front of your eyes. I always encourage parents and their kids to try household chemistry projects, such as making homemade soap or lip balm, which are great ways to learn about how substances interact with one another, as well as math by mixing substances proportionately. Plus, kids can be entrepreneurial by starting their own soap or lip balm line with their creations!"
Transform your kitchen into a science lab
Sparking a love for science begins at home. In my opinion, it’s about transforming everyday moments into scientific adventures. One of the easiest ways to do that is to run a simple at-home experiment that can spark curiosity. Make it a goal to become one of your child’s science teachers this year by identifying a few experiments to do together. Unsure of which experiments to conduct? Start with mixing baking soda and white vinegar to introduce chemical reactions and change in a powerful way. Or show them how plants and trees “breathe” through their leaves by submerging a leaf in water and watching the bubbles that appear. Whichever experiment you choose, the point is that students love science when they actually do science.