Back in 2015, President Barack Obama announced that science “is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world..." It was during this time that the U.S Department of Education developed a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative to teach these skills to America’s children.
Technology isn’t going anywhere. STEM jobs are on the rise in America and throughout the world. Observatory on Borderless Higher Education has called the current job market a “global race for STEM skills.” Indeed, STEM fields will continue to be some of the most in-demand, highest-paying jobs in the world. Did I mention they’re also some of the happiest and most fulfilling jobs?
STEM for Girls
STEM skills are not just for boys. There is a huge need for more women throughout the STEM industry. Sadly, few girls major in computer science or related fields and there is a huge gender gap in the tech field, including Silicon Valley. By starting at home and in the classroom, and by inspiring a love of STEM subjects in our girls while they are still young, we can hopefully encourage more diversity and better representation in this important field.
No child is too young (or too old) to start learning about science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Here are some of our favorite resources for children and teenagers.
Goldiblox creates wonderful, educational toys for girls ages 4 years and older. Meanwhile, Tynker can be a fun way to teach computer coding to young children. Need more ideas for younger kids? Here’s a great roundup of STEM activities for preschoolers.
While the Minecraft curriculum mentioned above is still age-appropriate for middle schoolers, your child might also be longing for something different. Why not “graduate” to more advanced (and lifelike) video game development?
Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 is a powerful and, not to mention, free video game creation engine. After ensuring that your computer meets the minimum requirements to run the software, you might explain to your child that Unreal Engine 4 is used by professional video game developers to create some of the most popular video games on the planet. It has also been used to create virtual reality worlds, special effects animations, and has even been used by the space industry. It’s intuitive to use and with plenty of online tutorials and free (and paid) resources available for download, just imagine what your child can create!
High schoolers can benefit from lesson plans that are more advanced and include more “real world” projects. While some of the lessons mentioned above, including Unreal Engine, would work well for high schoolers as well, they might also benefit from some of the lessons mentioned here. You could use this as an opportunity to teach your teen about financial literacy and prepare him or her for a possible future career in real estate, banking, accounting, or even design.
Keep in mind that the resources listed above are not an exhaustive list. By doing a quick Google search, you can find many more resources, curriculum outlines, lesson plans, and activities. You might even search for local STEM clubs for children in your area. If you’re interested in paying for STEM lessons, iD Tech offers a summer camp program for children in preschool through high school. Need something online? Skillcrush and Treehouse are two paid options with beginners’ coding classes that could easily work for high schoolers.
This blog was written by Julie Morris. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.