Spark your child’s interest in STEM

What is STEM?

The first point of call would be to explain what STEM is. What does it really mean and why is everyone making a big buzz about it? Well, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM education basically helps us in solving the challenges the world is facing today and those that will arise in the future.

STEM is the foundation of manufacturing, food production and health care thus, it is something we cannot live without as it pervades all aspects of our lives as humans.

Why is it important?

One may wonder, if STEM is so important and we can’t do without it, why then do we keep talking about it? The reason is that despite the need for STEM in every sphere of life, the numbers are not adding up. Demand is growing, but representation in the field of STEM is dropping.

Between 2017 and 2029, the number of STEM jobs will grow by 8.8%, a higher rate than non-STEM jobs – with positions in computing, engineering and advanced manufacturing leading the way. In contrast, the interest in STEM in the younger generation is decreasing, significantly.

In 2019, the Institute for Engineering and Technology in the United States found a 10% decrease in children’s interest in science over 4 years. More than half of the primary school teachers (57%) reported poor resources as a contributing factor to the decline. A concern is raised,  if the interest in STEM is affected by lack of resources in the developed world, how big will the magnitude be in the developing world? Food for thought.

Why you should consider STEM for your child?

Why is it important for the young generation to develop a keen interest in STEM? STEM is important because it teaches critical thinking skills and instils a passion for innovation. It assists with problem solving and exploratory learning which fuel success across a variety of tasks and disciplines.

STEM for children develops the next generation of problem solvers, critical thinkers, creators, doers, innovators and inventors. The world we are living in now is fast paced and constantly changing. It will favour citizenry that is STEM educated and able to solve problems both efficiently and creatively.

How to spark your child’s interest?

There are various ways to ensure children develop a keen interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. One of the best ways is to emphasize the impact science has on the world. Encourage children to observe real world problem and think about how STEM can be applied to solve them.

Connect science to their interests. One of the ways could be to invest in STEM oriented toys and games. In a fun and engaging way, children can get to develop problem solving skills and with where the world is headed, these will definitely come in handy!

Article by Tariro Marekwa (Graduate Civil and Water Engineer)

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Tea in 60 is a community that seeks to bring about the much needed practical one-on-one conversations between girls interested in STEM and women already in the field. In one hour, girls in high school, as well as those that are in or have just finished tertiary education will have an opportunity to discuss anything they want in the career of their choosing with a selected mentor.