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“Scientists and children belong together because they are the best learners in the universe.” The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind

We want our kids to get a great education. A FANTASTIC education. We want them to succeed in the future. We want them to be able to fulfill their dreams of traveling, supporting a family, giving generously to their community, and leading a meaningful life.

How can we set our kids on a successful path early in life?

Early STEM Education

We all hear about how important a solid foundation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is, especially from a young age. It’s all over the news. We’ve heard it for years.

An early STEM education will benefit your kids throughout their lives. Find out why and how to easily engage your kids in early STEM education.

Photo by James Emery

But why is early STEM education so important for young kids? Why not wait until high school to get the kids involved in science labs and technology courses?

Steve Spangler says, “Research shows that most children have formed an opinion (either positive or negative) about science by the time they reach the age of 7.” Wait, what?! AGE 7? This puts a huge amount of responsibility on parents and early childhood educators to give their students positive experiences with science. He goes on to say, “Early childhood educators have far more impact and influence on a child’s potential to seek out a career in science or engineering than at any other grade level.”

Wow.

Why do we care about preparing our kids to potentially pursue a career in a STEM field? Let me answer that question with a few statistics from a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce published in 2011.

  • STEM workers drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies, and new industries.
  • Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs. The job outlook continues to be promising as STEM occupations are projected to continue to grow.
  • STEM workers are less likely to experience joblessness than their non-STEM counterparts.
  • STEM workers command 26% higher wages than their non-STEM counterparts.
  • STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations.

I can also tell you a little something from personal experience. I earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in chemistry without having ever paid a penny for my college classes. In graduate school my tuition was completely waived and I earned a small stipend on top of that for working as a teaching/research assistant. While my friends in other fields graduated with suffocating student loan debt, I graduated debt-free with a solid nest egg in my savings account. This is the norm for STEM advanced degrees, not the exception.

Is early STEM Education important or is it overrated? Read this article for the surprising answers as well as surprise good news at the end.

Photo by [email protected]

What You Can Do

So what can you do NOW, as a parent or teacher of young children? How can you encourage an early love and understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math? How can you set your kids on a path to success?

Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

  • Do fun science experiments and activities with them! Get their hands into it, get them thinking about what they are seeing, get them thinking about how they could alter the experiment the next time around. An enjoyment of and appreciation for STEM activities will benefit a child, no matter the educational and professional course they choose later on.

“Early childhood educators have far more impact and influence on a child’s potential to seek out a career in science or engineering than at any other grade level.”

  • Supplement what they are learning in school with a program like Groovy Lab in a Box, which is basically a hands-on engineering lab sent to your doorstep each month. The investigations culminate into an Engineering Design Challenge, where the kids apply what they’ve learned from the investigations (and use their critical thinking skills) to complete the challenge. I can’t think of a better way to encourage STEM learning than to have a mystery box arrive on the doorstep each month! And even if your kids don’t end up pursuing a career in a STEM-related field, the critical thinking skills they develop in solving these challenges each month can really only benefit them for the rest of their lives.

An early STEM education will benefit your kids throughout their lives. Find out why and how to easily engage your kids in early STEM education.

  • Visit your local science museum (find it here) and get a membership if you think you’ll visit regularly. This is a fantastic way for kids to get their hands on BIG science and engineering projects that you can’t do at home. They often offer classes and camps that enrich your child’s education. Plus, if your science museum is part of the ASTC Travel Passport Program you can get into nearly 300 museums around the country for free with your membership! We have used our membership to get into science museums in four different states for free as we have traveled this year.
  • Make sure your home library is well stocked with science books that your kids can browse freely. Even before a child can read, pictures in books can spark questions and discussions about scientific principles. My kids’ favorites on our shelf are The Usborne Science Encyclopedia and First Illustrated Science Dictionary.

So what do you think? Is early STEM education important? Is it overrated? What are some things you are doing to encourage your kids/students to engage in STEM? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!

By | 2017-02-27T21:47:57+00:00 October 8th, 2015|Engineering, Family, Math, Parenting, Science, Technology|8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Steph October 12, 2015 at 8:30 am - Reply

    My 2 and 4 year olds have the BEST STEM teacher visit their preschool once per week. She introduces topics in such a fun kid-friendly way, I don’t think they have any clue they’re learning something. At the same time, they’re excited for STEM time – I hope it sticks through school!

    • Crystal October 12, 2015 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Oh my goodness, that is so fantastic! I wish more schools did that! What a great way to get your kids excited early about STEM 🙂

  2. Emma October 12, 2015 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    So far it’s been easy to get my daughter into STEM activities – she has a natural inclination for experimenting and figuring things out. My job has just been to offer her opportunities! Definitely entering the giveaway – looks awesome! Thanks for sharing at the Thoughtful Spot!

  3. Karen @ Raising Little Superheroes October 16, 2015 at 2:58 am - Reply

    I use to be an elementary teacher and the STEM lessons and activities were always my favorite to teach and my students’ favorite to learn. I just missed out on the giveaway! My children would of loved it! Thank you for sharing at the #Made4Kids Link Party!

  4. Carrie @ Crafty Moms Share October 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    My experience is quite different. In elementary school I had been in the lowest level of math at one point but in high school I was in honors math and became a high school math teacher. I do not feel it is always so cut and dry with the human mind and I think with the right teachers a mind can be changed on a subject.

  5. Jill Chochol November 5, 2015 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    ried to subscribe to your enewsletter-button didn’t seem to work.

    • Crystal November 5, 2015 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! It is fixed now 🙂

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