STEM education is not new, but it has been getting a lot of traction recently. While it is true the world has entered the digital age, the advancements don't stop there. The subject areas covered in STEM are science, technology, engineering, and math are ingrained in people's lives and will only be more intertwined as time passes. Hence, the need for children to learn STEM skills.
It is understandable for parents to be concerned about their children's education. At first, STEM subjects may seem like nothing but additional classes, but their value transcends the skills learned in the classroom.
Importance of STEM Education for Kids
STEM education is important for kids because it:
Develops valuable life skills
Bridges gaps between technology and society
Makes learning fun
Helps kids flourish in a tech-heavy environment
1. Develops valuable life skills
Traditional learning methods can sometimes lead to a gap in children's education. If not addressed, children may lose interest in a subject entirely. For instance, if children were only taught computer programming and coding by reading about them, they may find it hard to understand the concepts. But by listening to lectures and attempting to write codes, they could see how programming languages like Java or Python can be fun for kids. It will also increase their interest in the subject and cultivate a more natural learning process.
Moreover, unlike traditional learning methods, STEM subjects rely on hands-on application. For example, children will write codes, conduct science experiments, or build simple engineering projects. Doing so promotes their critical thinking and problem-solving skills because they can see the results of their hard work. Moreover, it teaches children to be resilient when faced with challenges. These skills come in handy later in life because they translate to everyday, real-life situations regardless of what field they specialize in.
2. Bridges gaps between technology and society
The great thing about STEM is that it bridges the gap between technology and society as technology never ceases to evolve. When children discover what they could achieve with STEM, they can develop solutions to society’s challenges. It can begin with something as simple as improving the means of transportation or communication. Doing so raises children’s awareness of the problems plaguing society, both past and present. In the process, they also become aware of how their choices impact other people.
This is necessary in today’s globalized world where people are more connected than ever. Children can challenge current norms and suggest changes to improve society as the future generation. The STEM industry, for instance, already faces a crisis. It lacks diversity and representation of minorities. Becoming aware of issues like these goes beyond STEM. It also contributes to the betterment of society as a whole.
3. Makes learning fun
Parents are aware of the pandemic's toll on everyone, including their children. While adults face working from home, kids have to deal with e-learning. Online classes have affected attention spans as students face the same repetitive routine with seemingly no end in sight. However, unlike traditional classes, STEM classes are not as dependent on lectures alone. It involves more application, which means hands-on activities. It will undoubtedly break up the monotony of classes, online or not, and provide that much-needed break for kids.
For instance, children can do recycled projects and volcano experiments, or even make slime in science. In terms of technology, kids can create their own websites or even attempt to program robots. They can build projects out of Lego blocks or replicate prominent landmarks for engineering. Knowing how children can apply the lessons they learned in STEM classes can fuel their eagerness to learn. These activities reinforce the idea that learning is fun. As a result, kids can view STEM education with a renewed sense of excitement.
4. Helps kids flourish in a tech-heavy environment
Technology is everywhere and integrated into nearly all aspects of people's lives, even those not inherently technology related. The world is already in the digital age. Soon, literacy in technology will be a prerequisite rather than a bonus when dealing with everyday life. Enrolling kids in STEM subjects equips them with the skills they need not only to survive but flourish in a tech-heavy environment.
STEM education will ensure students have access to as many opportunities as possible in their careers and college educations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10.5% rise in STEM occupations from 2020 to 2030. Not giving children that chance deprives them of opportunities in the future. It isn't to say non-STEM occupations are inferior. Still, the fact is that people can't escape technology, so they might as well adapt to it.
STEM education goes beyond teaching kids to program computers or create science projects. It teaches them valuable skills such as critical thinking and resilience. It also opens their eyes to the problems society faces. STEM is a part of everyone's daily lives. Given how technology is frequently evolving, it is clearly part of our future.
The children are the future generation. They will grow up in an even more technologically advanced world than we live in. However, they can only adapt if they are equipped with the skills and know-how in STEM.
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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment in STEM Occupations.” Last modified April 19, 2022. https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/stem-employment.htm.
Chenoweth, Robin. “The rising crisis in American STEM”. News (blog). The Ohio State University. February 28, 2020. https://ehe.osu.edu/news/listing/rising-crisis-american-stem.