If you want your children to develop their thinking abilities and succeed in the workforce, they’re going to need STEM skills. That’s the acronym educators use for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Show your child that being good at math and science pays off. Try these 11 tips for broadening your child’s opportunities by strengthening their STEM skills and discovering 5 top STEM careers to pursue.
But first, where does the world stand on STEM education?
While politicians, teachers, and parents all sound enthusiastic about the importance of math and science, the world has an uneven track record on the subject. More people are receiving graduate degrees in these areas, but students still rank low on STEM assessments, and that’s especially true for girls.
According to government figures, women make up half the college-educated workforce, but only about one-quarter of the college-educated workforce in science and engineering positions. Meanwhile, jobs in those fields are growing much faster than other occupations.
Here are 11 steps you could take at home to encourage STEM skills
1. Highlight the science of your everyday tasks
Science extends far beyond the classroom and is everywhere if we take moment to look for it. Explain fractions and chemical reactions to your child while you’re doing your grocery shopping, cooking or baking a cake.
2. Appeal to your child’s interests by connecting technology with their hobbies
There can be a technological dimension to any subject that your child loves. Talk about how video replay systems work while watching a sports game. Explain how musicians use computers to edit music. What about how app developers work to provide a smooth user experience on their favourite apps?
3. Encourage hands-on learning by making it fun
Spark children’s interest by engaging them in fun maths activities. Counting and weighing pasta can introduce kids to counting. Many interesting science experiments require nothing more than ordinary objects you have in your kitchen cupboards or garage.
4. Plan a fact-finding mission to learn brain-busting facts
Check your community calendars for enriching local activities. If you keep tabs, you’ll find lots of wonderfully engaging STEM activities. Visit the zoo to see how modern medicine is helping endangered species to breed. Attend a free workshop at the natural history museum.
5. Do some research online
Many organisations produce STEM materials to share with your kids, including games and videos. Visit PBS, the National Geographic Society, and NASA for starters. There are also tons of hands-on tech resources like coding apps and website builders.
6. Steps to take at school
Start early. Studies show that girls have similar abilities to boys in science and math, but they may lose confidence in their abilities as early as elementary school. Work with your daughters and sons before high school so they’ll keep the door open for academic options that lead to STEM careers.
7. Talk with the teacher
Many schools face a shortage of qualified STEM teachers, and the curricula may be limited. Ask your child’s teacher about what your school offers.
8. Continue your education
You’ll naturally be a stronger advocate if you brush up on your own STEM skills. Invite your children to teach you some geometry while they’re doing their homework. Read the science section in a major newspaper at least once a week to broaden your knowledge, or take a short course to learn the basics of HTML for instance.
9. Explore extracurricular activities
Supplement your child’s classroom courses with explorer’s clubs and science camps. They may want to build their own robot or design video games. Group activities are also an excellent way for your child to connect with inspiring mentors.
10. Discover the resources available to you and your children
Parents may be able to work together if tight school budgets are an issue. Research government grants for which your school may be eligible. Local businesses may want to become more involved so they can attract qualified future workers.
11. Discuss course selections
One promising study found that children took more science and math courses in their last two years of high school if their parents received a couple of brochures about STEM. Simple interventions can have dramatic results so request some inspiring prospectuses and get excited about your child’s future.
5 top STEM career opportunities
1. Software Development
In the age of smartphones and virtual, and augmented everything, software keeps us efficient and operational! There is no end to opportunities for technical and creative masterminds and despite its name, software engineering does not require mathematics.
If you’re wondering how to become a software developer with no experience, here are 8 steps to encourage your child to take to kickstart a career in programming.
- Improve coding skills
- Create a portfolio
- Build an online presence
- Network with other programmers
- Earn certifications
- Take part in coding challenges or competitions
- Write a strong resume
- Build projects
2. Mechanical Engineering
Engineering is in incredibly high demand and mechanical engineers in particular design, produce and operate machinery.
Jobs for people with mechanical engineering degrees:
- Aerospace engineer
- Automotive engineer
- Biomedical engineer
- Business executive
- Construction engineer
- Intellectual property attorney
- Manufacturing engineer
You don’t need a worldwide pandemic to recognise the need for experts who can solve biological problems. However, in recent times the desire for this type of career is higher than ever. Biochemists have played incredible roles in developing vaccines, therapies, medicines and other pharmaceuticals, but understanding the chemistry of life can also open up a world of other opportunities, including in forensics, ecology and food production.
There are different ways to get started with a career in biochemistry:
- a university course
- working towards this role with work experience
- specialist training with the NHS
If your child has a passion to help those suffering from illness, disease and injury, the field of medicine may be a well-matched career path. The healthcare industry has many needs, including physician assistants, imaging technologists and clinical laboratory scientists.
5. Environmental Engineering
With increasing concern about environmental degradation, environmental engineers are increasingly in demand to find novel solutions to the human impact on our natural world. Career opportunities are high in the areas of public health, pollution and building design
What GCSE do you need for environmental engineering?
Here are some key skills and attributes that are needed to get into environmental engineering:
- IT skills
- Willingness to learn
- Attention to detail
- Team working
- Mathematical knowledge
- Report writing
- Ability to interpret data
Parents can play a powerful role in their children’s education. Help your children build a strong foundation in math and science so they’ll be ready to succeed in the workforce of the future.