When it comes to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), there is no shortage of opportunity. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in STEM are growing at a rate of 8.9%, which is more than double the rate of growth for non-STEM occupations. That said, there is a disconnect when it comes to getting young people interested in pursuing careers in STEM. A recent study by Microsoft found that only 37% of youth globally express interest in a STEM career.
One of the reasons for this disconnect is that many young people don’t have a clear understanding of what STEM careers entail. They might be interested in the concept of working with computers or doing experiments in a lab, but they don’t know how those interests can turn into a career. Industry leaders, educators, parents, and others need to do a better job of communicating the wide range of possibilities that exist within the field of STEM.
How to Introduce Youth to STEM
There are many ways to pique the interest of young people when it comes to careers in STEM. Some ideas include:
Encouraging Them to Tinker and Build: If you have a child who loves taking things apart or building things from scratch, there’s a good chance they would be interested in a career in engineering or another similar field. There are plenty of opportunities for kids to get their hands dirty and build something cool with robotics kits, 3D printers, and other tools that are widely available today. Not only will this help them develop an understanding for how things work, but it will also give them a sense of accomplishment when they see their creations come to life.
Encouraging Them to Code: Coding is becoming an increasingly important skill regardless of what field you’re interested in pursuing. Many children are already familiar with basic coding concepts thanks to popular video games like Minecraft and Roblox. There are also a number of resources available online and offline that can help kids take their coding skills to the next level. These days, there are even coding bootcamps specifically geared towards children!
Encouraging Them to Be Curious: It’s important to encourage kids (and adults!) to ask questions and never stop learning. One way to do this is by taking them on field trips or virtual tours of different businesses and organizations that focus on STEM. This will help them see how their interests can be applied in the real world and possibly spark new interests along the way. You can also introduce them to popular podcasts and TED Talks related to STEM topics – who knows, they might even be inspired to give a TED Talk themselves one day!
While there is certainly no shortage of opportunity within the field of STEM, there is a disconnect when it comes from getting young people interested in pursuing careers within this industry. It’s important for industry leaders, educators, parents, and others to do a better job at communicating the wide range of possibilities that exist for those pursuing careers in science, technology engineering, and math. By encouraging kids to tinker and build, code, and be curious about the world around them, we can help spark their interest in pursuing a career within the field of STEM.
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