As technology becomes more advanced, the available jobs will continue to shift. There will be more opportunities than ever in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and today’s learners need to be prepared to excel in these fields once they leave school. For many students in the United States, STEM subjects can seem intimidating, which is leading to a mismatch in skills and available jobs. For the sake of the country’s economy and today’s learners, we need to encourage students, especially girls, to get excited about STEM fields.
To help set students up for a bright future, it’s essential that we introduce STEM concepts early and encourage kids to explore their interests within these subjects. But how can we accomplish this more effectively? Here are some ways we can help prep students for the tech revolution of the future.
Why STEM Matters: A Look Ahead
Technology is already a big part of everyday life. From smartphones to self-driving vehicles, our daily life is far more advanced than most people could dream of fifty years ago. That trend is only going to continue, with advanced technology making its way into manufacturing, transportation, finance, and healthcare.
We’re going to need far more STEM graduates in ten years than we do today, and we’re already falling short of the numbers companies need to fill their open positions. Many industries are growing quickly, like biotechnology and healthcare robotics, which is expected to reach $2.8 billion in revenue by 2021. We will need nurses who are proficient with technology, programmers, biotech scientists, and many others to help solve our world’s problems and fuel the economy in the future.
The Importance of Early Exposure to STEM Learning
We shouldn’t be waiting until kids are in elementary school to begin engaging them with STEM concepts. There are so many hands-on opportunities to encourage young children to play, explore, and engage when they’re in preschool.
In one classroom, preschoolers used engineering techniques to explore sounds and vibrations, just one example of how we can make STEM fun and interesting for all ages. Even preschoolers can begin to understand complex concepts if they’re presented in an accessible way. Getting started early can be crucial to building a lifelong love of STEM learning.
Technology Makes STEM Learning Second Nature
Classrooms are becoming more connected all the time, and today’s learners are digital natives who have grown up using computers and tech tools. That background, combined with the dynamic curriculum available to educators today allows students to learn STEM subjects like they’re second nature. Coding games, AR and VR, and smart classrooms are making it easier than ever to engage students with STEM.
Just having access to technology can be powerful. In one school district, all students were issued a laptop (Grades 3-12) and were assessed three years later. Graduation rates rose from 80% to 91% and students met proficiency standards at a rate of 88%, up from 73%. Students who have access to technology will often use it proactively to learn and grow.
How Real-World Examples Help Kids Make Sense of the Sciences
One of the reasons many students do not continue to study STEM subjects after high school is that many find them intimidating. We can change that by shifting from abstract teaching to using real-world examples and interactive experiences. Through STEM training, today’s youth learn real-world lessons backed by scientific reasoning.
Kids need to learn complex problem-solving, critical thinking skills, and to question why they are learning in order to thrive in STEM. Showing students practical applications and allowing them to work through complex STEM projects in the classroom will help them gain confidence and prepare them for the future.
Getting Kids Excited About STEM
The good news is that kids are naturally curious and want to learn about things that interest them from a young age. Curious minds don’t have to wait to learn more about STEM. There’s an abundance of online training available for ambitious students such as Udemy’s C++ courses which is suitable for both beginners and advanced learners.
If you’re a parent or an educator, one of the best things you can do is to help get the children in your life excited about STEM. There are thousands of resources online, camps, games, and activities for the home or the classroom that you can use to get started. A lifelong love of learning in STEM subjects can—and should—start early.