Did you know that the cell phone you have in your pocket has more computing power than NASA had when they landed a man on the moon in 1969? Technological innovation is the knowledge of the future and we must help ensure our children are ready to create, discover and innovate.
One way to foster innovation in your child is to encourage an interest in STEM education. STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math, and education in the STEM fields has been shown to help develop problem-solving, logic, collaboration and communication skills among students. It also helps students to think creatively about the world around them.
Parents play a critical role in helping their children get excited about STEM education. Here are five steps to help parents and families create a science and technology environment outside of school:
- View science and technology TV with your child. Engage in discussions about what you viewed afterward. For example, PBS has many science and nature programming including: NOVA, Nature and Sid the Science Kid. And, they have a great online tool to help parents & teachers find content to share with students. In addition, the Discovery Channel show called “Mythbusters” provides a fun look at science and often incorporates elements of physics, chemistry and mathematics as part of the experiments.
- Try a science experiment at home. For example, pick up a bag of French fries from your favorite fast food restaurant. Put them in a jar and close the lid. Observe how long it takes for the fries to develop mold. This is an indication of how many preservatives are in the food. (This can also help to start a discussion on healthy eating habits!)
- Visit the Arizona Science Center, Challenger Learning Center, Biosphere II or the Lowell Observatory with your family. Explore each and keep tabs on future exhibits that might be of interest to your child.
- Use building blocks, puzzles, cards and board games for family activities. Games help develop logic and critical thinking skills which are components of STEM education.
- Engage in conversations about science-related topics with children in a way that pertains to everyday life experiences. The Arizona SciTech Festival has lots of information and resources on year-round science activities.
In addition to creating an overall interest in STEM education, there are ways to create math appreciation in your home. Click here to learn about how to incorporate math in fun and creative ways.
By fostering innovation and creativity, we prepare our children for the world of the tomorrow. Who knows, your child might develop the next iPhone, find a cure for cancer or help put an astronaut on Mars!