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What is STEM, and How Can Your Kids Get Into It?

posted: 06/07/16
by: TLCme
picture of kids with STEM kit
iStock

A recent article issued by the U.S. Department of Education titled "Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Education for Global Leadership" projects that job growth in the STEM core (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) will steadily grow in the second decade of this century. They also predict demand for placements into STEM positions may fall short if we don't purposefully encourage the STEM collective earlier in a child's development.

The goals of the government are admirable. Ideally, it wants to introduce STEM curriculum in preschool through secondary education; promote awareness and participation in STEM; enhance undergraduate opportunities; broaden STEM resources to minorities; and lastly, hone graduate education to minister to the STEM fields.

That's going to take a while. (And, oh by the way, we'll have a new president in less than a year. No telling what plans he or she has for education.) The point is, you can foster STEM interest with creative play and toys. Children don't need the statistics and projections as to why STEM careers are going to be in high demand. They just need to have fun. Let curiosity do the rest.

Some ideas on furthering STEM in your kids' lives:

Look for toys that stimulate the urge to figure out "How does it do that?" Some of the best toys are those that invite experimentation to assess cause and effect. The Glowing Chemistry Kit does just that. Kids will learn the various aspects of light and luminescence. This is like glow sticks on steroids!

Entice your future pilot with a paper airplane that is controlled by your smartphone. Complete with a flight simulator as part of the app, its features include ascend/descend, thrust capacity and a compass. The lightweight construction means it can take some crash landings until level mastery is achieved.

Levers, forces and pulleys, oh my! Aspiring engineers will be able to build their own devices with these simple engineering parts. With 25 experiments incorporating engineering feats for land, sea and air, this kit has the bases covered. The best part... it comes with an easy-to-follow guidebook that even a parent can follow.

Paging Young Frankenstein? Maybe a future surgeon blooms within. Build on manual dexterity skills with a sewing kit for your little monster with a kit that will create... a little monster. Just keep an extra eye on the cat.

Will there be a shortage of millennials to meet and solve the world's problems (and there are plenty of problems)? It's impossible to know for certain. What is for sure is that it's never too early to foster creative play that will stimulate a child's desire to explore. Encouragement and direction that is based in STEM curriculum through play can produce knowledge and skills that could indeed, make the world a better place -- for all of us.