The careers of the future and lifelong success start with STEM for kids
Leading economies like the US have gotten where they are through the help of professionals in the field of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). These fields are engaging and exploratory, and they have the means to change the world for the better. For that reason, preparing kids with strong STEM skills is more important than ever.
Benefits of STEM for Kids
Why do we educate our children and provide them with enrichment experiences? It’s to give them life-long confidence, skills, and character that will ensure they can have a happy life and contribute to society in a meaningful way. STEM for kids is an excellent way to achieve this.
1. Careers in STEM are in demand
Well, one of the best things about preparing kids for a STEM career is that it holds its relevance even with the passage of time. The knowledge and abilities that kids gain from these fields lays the groundwork for resilient careers that our modern, ever-changing world shows us it needs. Technology, equipment, and other devices that our modern world runs on are becoming more advanced and more pervasive (or commonplace) as time goes by, and, to keep up, STEM knowledge is vital for our kids. Even if you’re working in fashion, food, or real estate, you need STEM skills to meet modern expectations and demands for innovative solutions to everyday challenges or opportunities. In other words, promoting STEM for kids will never go out of style.
However, there are specific benefits to pursuing a STEM career. According to many government statistics and research reports, it offers better employment prospects for the future. In fact, statistics indicate that the unemployment rate in STEM careers is just 5.3%. That is about half as high as the unemployment rate for non-STEM careers, which stands at 10.1%. Putting emphasis on STEM for kids now will prove to be beneficial for not only their development, but also for their long-term health and happiness as they build their lives throughout adulthood.
Furthermore, knowledge in the field of STEM is in high demand. Many industries require the skills imparted by an education in the field. As the infographic from EverFi indicates, the best STEM jobs are also often the best-paying jobs anyone can hold. As a matter of fact, there is a shortage of professionals in the field, and those who gain STEM knowledge neither have to worry about making money in the field nor finding good employment opportunities. Having STEM for kids will ensure that your child finds a rewarding career should they want to pursue this field.
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2. Expertise in STEM empowers kids to change the world
Kids have the power to change the world, and STEM careers can give them to tools to use that power effectively. In order to invent new solutions for the emerging problems in our constantly-changing world, kids need the creative problem solving and collaboration skills that come with implementing STEM concepts and practices. . Programs that purposefully create STEM-learning pathways for kids, prepare kids to change the world. Creating cures, better telecommunications solutions, and other critical things our world needs require STEM knowledge. Moreover, kids with coding knowledge have the necessary skills to develop applications for social impact. Therefore, STEM for kids gives them a better chance of changing the world for the better.
3. STEM prepares kids for life, not just for work
The key to innovation is the ability to adapt to changing environments. Ultimately, this requires quite a bit of creativity. Fortunately, creativity is something kids can nurture by pursuing STEM careers. People have the common misconception that STEM is based on a rigid, scientific framework that should be followed at all times. In reality, these subjects require creativity that is characteristic of the arts and crafts, and this skill is very important in a world where professionals need to come up with fresh and innovative solutions. For instance, engineers need drawing skills to explain their creative designs. This artistic skill of drawing is necessary because these professionals need to convince others that their creations can exist in the real world. The STEM for kids programs of today make sure that kids are getting the creative skill building they need to succeed.
It is this same creative thinking combined with the scientific method that will allow kids to develop the resiliency to tackle any challenge that they may face. Their adaptability will allow them to solve all sorts of problems not just in the workplace but in life as well.
STEM Learning Pathways for Kids
There are a lot of things kids can do to learn STEM and be prepared for any challenge that may come their way. By learning to use computers, calculators, and the web, kids can learn plenty about technology. We live in a world where vast amounts of information are at our fingertips, the perfect lab for the creation of something extraordinary. For example, to learn more about engineering, kids can be exposed to toys such as bridges, robots, and other simple machines.
To learn math skills, kids can take advantage of age-appropriate toys or programs that involve counting, creating patterns, and other quantitative skills. Such projects can help these kids grow their knowledge of STEM subjects so that courses in the field are less intimidating when the time to choose a career path comes along. However, STEM for kids is so much more.
To emphasize, STEM is not just the four separate subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math; rather, it is an interdisciplinary curriculum that blends them all together into a cohesive, structured way of thinking. It shows students that the scientific method way of thinking can be applied to everyday life. It teaches them to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, and this is what will take them far.
Other fun STEM projects for kids include building rockets, catapults, model solar systems, kites, puppets, and anything that involves building things with their hands. The possibilities are endless! Such activities will get the right gears turning for these kids, and they will be one step closer to changing the world.
How Afterschool & Summer Programs Can Help Teach Students STEM Skills
Afterschool and summer STEM programs for kids are perfect for teaching kids much needed STEM skills. They are fun, and they make learning the required skills less intimidating.
Additionally, these programs are perfect for demonstrating to kids the practical and exciting applications of STEM careers they might one day pursue. Therefore, it is a good thing that the nation as a whole has taken the initiative to implement so many programs that highlight STEM for kids.
Truthfully, STEM subjects often require a little more commitment to school work than some non-STEM subjects. STEM for kids can be a challenge. Luckily enough, good STEM programs offer a solution to this issue, as they have been proven to reduce kids skipping school, improve participation, enhance conduct, and increase the effectiveness of homework in learning. This is according to the Afterschool Alliance, which also reports that approximately 8.4 million students take part in afterschool programs.
While afterschool and summer programs are not all that is needed to create literacy in STEM projects, they have been shown to result in 60% of the participants enrolling in STEM courses in college. Therefore, they create a huge advantage for kids who want to join these valuable careers.
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The Future of STEM Jobs
Projections about the future of STEM jobs are very promising. Below is a graph by the U.S. Department of Education showing the projected increase in STEM jobs from 2010 to 2020.
graphic credit - https://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/stem-infographic.jpg
As the chart indicates, each of the STEM careers will see an increase in demand for professionals as time goes by. Therefore, kids have a strong reason to pursue these careers, and parents should do all they can to encourage it by looking into some afterschool STEM for kids programs.
Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Statistics has found out that STEM jobs are projected to grow at about twice the rate of other jobs. Therefore, while demand for other careers will be at about 10%, it will be a staggering 21.4% for STEM jobs.
Further research indicates that the trend will continue well into the future. Figures indicate that as much as 80% of jobs will need some knowledge of technical skills in the next decade. This is more of a reason to start STEM for kids early and get them on the right track.
Examples of STEM jobs include industrial engineers, researchers, doctors, computer scientists, cost estimators, medical scientists, and so forth. The best STEM jobs today, as far as income goes, include being a general practitioner, an architectural engineer, a computer and information scientist, and a natural sciences manager.
The future lies in STEM learning, and STEM jobs are the best jobs any kid can aspire to as they pursue their education. But, proper preparation is required for those interested in STEM careers. This includes doing STEM for kids projects that advance STEM knowledge at an early age, as well as taking part in afterschool and summer programs related to STEM for kids. Overall, every kid has a reason to pursue a STEM career. There is a high demand for professionals in the field, and the data indicates that this demand will only grow over time. STEM for kids doesn’t just stop at a STEM career nor is that the only destination. STEM learning helps kids develop a mindset that allows them to solve a variety of problems, which ultimately contributes to their lifelong success, STEM career or not.
Where to Get Started...
In this engineering for kids camp, children will learn about the science of research and design involved in building projects. Projects include Legos, electronics, and other materials. Kids will gain an in-depth understanding of the scientific method, a staple of any STEM professional and a must-have for any program that emphasizes STEM for kids.
photo credit - https://www.stemgineering.net/
This fun STEM for kids camp teaches them how to program NAO, the camp’s humanoid robot, to walk, talk, and even dance. They will take a project-based approach to learning a combo of robotics and computer science, which mirrors the day-to-day tasks of STEM careers.
photo credit - http://www.anmol-technologies.com/classes.html
In this STEM for kids camp, kids will learn to set up and make modifications to the hardware and operating system of a Raspberry Pi, a fully functioning computer that is about the size of a credit card. This will teach kids programming, and they will create their own programs and games using Scratch, Python (a programming language), and Minecraft.
Read more about how STEM can help kids build creative skills and careers in our article, "Teaching kids to code is a creative process that empowers them to make a social impact."