Watch your children. No, not just as a careful supervisor on a playground. Simply observe your children, noting their interests and abilities. That's how you will be able to see into the future and predict a STEM career for your child.
Personal example: When my daughter was 10, she wasn't interested in music lessons like her older sister, and she wasn't interested in crafts or dolls. What she wanted for her 10th Christmas was a chemistry set. For her 12th birthday, she wanted a solar shower for the back yard (we live in a very rural area!). And she had enough critters over the years to start her own zoo (goats, a potbelly pig, hamsters, rabbits, dogs, chameleons, guinea pigs, ferrets, parakeets, tropical fish, etc.), The only thing we were missing was a partridge in a pair tree! For her middle school graduation, she wanted horseback riding classes. Do you see the trend starting? Today she is an award-winning middle school science teacher, helping other young explorers to find out about chemistry, biology, earth science, and physics. She was, and still is, a STEM junkie!
Why is developing an early interest in STEM so important? Because a recently released report by the Department of Commerce (1) provided this valuable information: "U.S. businesses frequently voice concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs. STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness than their non-STEM counterparts. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy." Additionally, those with graduate degrees in a STEM job earned more than $40 per hour, nearly $4.50 more per hour on average than those with non-STEM jobs.
Do you want your children to get a good job ... and... keep that good job? The first step is to encourage STEM investigation at an early age. Add STEM-related books to your child's bookshelf. Find ways to explore STEM topics during routing tasks. You can even find games that foster STEM interests.
The second step to helping your child mature into an adult who can get and keep a good job is to foster positive character education traits like responsibility, empathy, and cooperation. That's much easier to accomplish than you may think. Simply model those characteristics for your children and they will naturally grow into responsible adults... like you! And when you look for acceptable TV programs, look for ones that show the characters interacting in a positive manner. We probably all grew up with Wiley Coyote attacking the roadrunner. It's time to put away the Acme Dynamite and 1-ton anvil and watch shows that foster strong personal relationships. One of my favorites is Wild Kratts - it combines STEM and character education - just like all of our products that contain our STEM-C® Literacy.
What are YOUR children playing with today that will prepare them for a STEM career tomorrow?
(1) STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future,
Author: Renee Heiss