STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM curriculum encourages the integration of these subjects in the application of real-life challenges. Even though your child may not decide on his/her future career in preschool, early exposure to active and playful STEM-related activities may just lead them on the path to a rewarding career in STEM. Individuals possessing strong STEM qualifications are in high demand. We here at San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum (SDCDM), we are doing our part to ignite that spark and fuel its flame.
Children, being innately curious beings, are primed for STEM related experiences. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), research shows that the earlier we guide and support children's wonder about the world--and thereby identify opportunities for children to acquire foundational STEM skills--the more successful they are in all areas of learning later on.
Hands-on, active learning helps to spark insights and enhance a child’s sense of how the world works. “Research suggests that active exploration wires the brain, and helps kids develop powerful intuitions about concepts central to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” says Gwen Dewar. Encouraging a child to play on a hillside helps them to develop some intuition into the laws of gravity and physics. These early, active and playful exposures to STEM experiences will serve them well as they seek to further integrate knowledge and apply it to new situations.
“The future of the economy is in STEM,” says James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C. “That’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.” STEM careers offer a range of opportunities – acoustic engineer, home appliance repair, optometrist, film and video editor, police detective, architect, and veterinarian to name just a few. STEMJOBS has created eight STEM types (advisor, designer, explorer, investigator, maker, producer, integrator and solver) which may help a child identify an occupation that aligns with their interests and skill set.
“STEM offers a cooperative, innovative, and exciting work environment that is unparalleled,” says Aimee Kennedy, Vice President for Education and STEM Learning at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) asserts that employment in occupations related to STEM is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels.
Source: STEM Education Coalition
In today’s highly competitive global labor market, employers are seeking well qualified individuals who can think critically and creatively; collaborate and communicate across disciplines; problem-solve; and advance innovation – in other words: STEM!
Here at SDCDM, we’re doing our part to foster STEM education and ignite a spark in your child. We’ve expanded our STEM focus to include reading and art. Our daily STREAM stations from 12:15pm to 1:15pm stimulate curiosity and exploration in a playful and interactive manner. These activities allow the child to integrate knowledge while building critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We invite you to further extend their learning by visiting our year-round exhibit spaces that correspond to our themed STREAM-based activities.
It’s never too early to engage in STEM-focused activities with your child. Seeking to help them make connections to the world around them while engaging in thoughtful questioning and problem solving will set them up for success in all areas of learning. Who knows, you may even help them launch a successful STEM career!
STEM 101 – Intro. to Tomorrow’s Jobs
Congressional Panel Asks: What K-12 Skills Are Needed for STEM Workforce?
Michelle Forester holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She is an Educator at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum and loves teaching through play. She believes children learn best through hands-on exploration and play.