For those eager to learn something new, we live in a great age. Information on any subject imaginable is literally at your fingertips.
Unfortunately, the place where many spend their time for learning—school—isn’t quite yet where it needs to be in terms of equipping students with STEM skills. In fact, only one-quarter of all K-12 schools in the U.S. offer computer science and coding classes.
The tough thing is, each school faces its own unique challenges, with some unable to take on the increased costs of incorporating STEM into the classroom. Even if they are, many will have trouble keeping resources up to date and relevant with such an ever-changing landscape.
Other institutions might have trouble filling a teaching staff with those qualified or confident enough to lead STEM curriculum. And speaking of curriculum, there are many standards teachers need to be aiming to meet with traditional, core subjects—leaving little to no time for new STEM lesson plans.
Even in a perfect world (one where STEM was taught in every classroom) would there be enough project-based learning, or would it still be largely lecture? Could the learning be personalized to student needs and learning levels? To really make an impact, learning should be associated with already-established student interests.
Regardless of the situation in the classroom, nothing should really be learned in a vacuum. In sports, you play for your high school team, but you might also play for a club team; you might still go to summer camps, attend specialized academies, and even have a personal coach who you work with for a period of time.
STEM shouldn’t really be any different.
Most communities are now fortunate to have local programs at nearby libraries or museums that feature STEM activities. Here is a list of a few of our favorite destinations. (Even if they aren’t in your neighborhood, they might give you some ideas on where to start your research.)
STEM summer camps and classes also offer a more in-depth learning experience; with structured programs focused on building specific skills.
Honestly, you don’t even have to leave the house:
Build your own maker station at home
Head to the kitchen for a science experiment
Embark on a geology scavenger hunt
Try an online course
And so much more!
Spring Break is coming up (believe it or not), so consult our guide of last-minute STEM activitiesif you’re feeling stuck.
Let’s Talk About Where to Go From Here
I think first and foremost, let’s breath.
As a new parent myself, I can see and feel how this all can morph into one giant, overwhelming ball speeding towards you as you try to figure out your next move!
In the end, we should feel good about one thing. Opportunity.
There is no shortage of STEM opportunity for our children and those who follow—not only in the sheer number of available, pure STEM jobs, but also in the many other things in which STEM plays at least a small part.
I mean, AI and Machine Learning? Sure, I knew they were relevant topics given our summer course lineup, but I can’t say I would have had the same knowledge on just how in-demand those skills were if I wasn’t a part of the iD Tech family.
So, it’s up to us to keep educating ourselves so that we can educate others. It’s only with such knowledge that we can then tap into our children’s’ interests and successfully introduce STEM in ways that are structured, memorable, and impactful.