Here are some tips and resources to help expand science curricula and get children excited about learning.
1. Provide students with role models in the industry.
Young children observe everything and learn by mimicking people they look up to. Introduce students to role models that can inspire them to get excited about STEM, such as Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Some STEM celebrities, such as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, post on social media and have written children’s books. Having students view podcasts and YouTube channels of rising STEM stars explaining STEM concepts can be a great way to introduce future scientists and engineers to some star power inspiration.
2. Make science exciting!
Create hands-on science lessons so concepts come to life. Pose challenges, such as designing structures to withstand beach erosion on a model seashore or building bridges or tunnel systems that consider constraints for wildlife migration. Take a different perspective on everyday items: analyze hair and fur samples, create maps that display multiple layers of data about your school or community, or identify trees by their leaves.
3. Provide training and support for teachers.
Help teachers feel comfortable teaching science-related activities by providing them the time and guidance to create and implement hands-on activities that use an inquiry-based approach to learning. Teachers do not need to know everything about a STEM topic to teach students how to use the core scientific and engineering practices to explore the topics.
4. Bring in outside support.
5 ways to get students interested in STEM
Programs are available to help schools integrate interactive science lessons into classrooms. Science from Scientists, for example, offers hands-on classes taught by real, charismatic scientists during the school day in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and California. When staffing is short or teacher experience in STEM is limited, using a STEM enrichment program to supplement regular curricula can be very helpful.
5. Get parents involved.
Let’s face it, teachers can only do so much in school. Encourage parents to see the science around us and explore nature with their kids. Families who encourage exploration and inspire children to be curious can have a monumental impact on their children’s future.
As a society, we must teach younger generations that STEM is cool and that STEM is all around us. Teaching STEM to young children may have its challenges, but as in science, challenges lead to new and better solutions.