Teaching Kids STEM: GoldieBlox and Other Strategies

Greg Wheeler
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The United States is currently facing a shortage of skilled workers to fill open STEM jobs with engineering firms, laboratories, colleges and universities, and other employers. One way to prevent the shortage from continuing is to get kids interested in STEM careers at an early age. School administrators are doing their parts by overhauling science classes and placing more of an emphasis on STEM careers, but professionals currently in the field can help by participating in tutoring or mentoring programs designed to get kids interested in science, math, engineering, and technology.


Officials from the Department of Defense say the number of students pursuing STEM jobs has declined in the United States. One way to get kids interested in STEM is to provide toys and games designed to spark an early interest in high-tech fields. The GoldieBlox line of products was designed by an engineer from Stanford University who wanted to provide a curious, smart female role model for girls. She says GoldieBlox will help girls become more tech-savvy and courageous, preparing them to take on careers in the engineering field. In the first product in the GoldieBlox line, Goldie builds a spinning machine to make it easier for her dog to chase his tail. The kit includes washers, axles, and other parts so the user can build a machine like the one in the story.


If you have the opportunity to participate in a mentoring program or design a program specifically for encouraging students to pursue STEM jobs, bringing science and technology to life is a great way to spark interest. Students can learn a lot from lectures, but some really excel when they have the opportunity to use computers or experiment in laboratory settings. You can supplement traditional science and math courses by giving students the opportunity to operate robots, learn basic computer code, or put the principles of mathematics into action. If possible, arrange a field trip to a science museum so kids can have fun while learning how rewarding STEM jobs can be.


Giving students access to information about STEM careers is also important, but the information must be easy for young students to understand. Encourage kids to watch public television programs about science, engineering, and technology. If you have the resources, invest in DVD sets or software programs that make it fun for kids to learn about STEM concepts. The current STEM shortage is partially attributed to a lack of interest among young people, so take every opportunity to make learning fun.


Ending the shortage of people available to fill STEM jobs is a top priority in the United States, as a skilled workforce is essential for making advances in medical science, engineering, food science, and other STEM areas. Without the right workers, it will be difficult to compete with other countries when it comes to discovering new medical treatments or new ways to use technology to make the world a better place. Using the right strategies can help you get kids interested in STEM jobs so the shortage of skilled workers is not such a concern.


(Photo courtesy of dream designs / freedigitalphotos.net)


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