STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is everywhere. It does not just exist in the laboratory of the classroom. It pervades every aspect of life and the universe.
Students who learn STEM can hopefully pursue careers in STEM. There is currently a high demand for STEM graduates not just in the United States, but around the world. STEM enables the workforce to propel the human race toward the future. People in the fieldwork as robotics engineers, artificial intelligence trainers, virtual reality developers, ethical hackers, and so much more. Those who work in STEM change the world.
However, STEM is not easy. While, over the last decade, the U.S. has seen 2 million new jobs in STEM open up, the performances of American students in STEM subjects lag behind other nations such as Singapore, China, South Korea, and Japan.
How can parents help students improve their skills in STEM? Here are some ideas worth trying and considering:
STEM Goes Hand in Hand with Art
Contrary to popular belief, STEM is not the polar opposite of art. They can aid one another.
Students who want to improve their grades in STEM subjects should be encouraged to also pursue art. There have been numerous studies that prove that art can boost cognitive performance among young people.
One example is the impact of piano lessons or classes on a child’s ability to excel in math. Scientists in one research looked at whether playing instruments can make young people perform better in arithmetics. They found that it did. In a test, piano students scored 34 percent higher in math. They explained that the mix of concentration, problem-solving, and multitasking that is developed by people who play the piano helped them succeed in the subject compared to those who did not learn the musical instrument.
Moreover, while STEM is known to mostly use the left side of the brain associated with logic, creativity, which is essential to innovation, uses the right side. Therefore, utilizing only the left side of the brain would bring you nowhere. You have to be able to use the right side, too. You can only do so by allowing yourself to pursue the arts.
Parents who want their children to take an interest and excel in STEM should not dissuade the young ones from exercising their creativity. Children should also be encouraged to learn how to play a musical instrument, paint, write, perform onstage, or read a book.
Nature Teaches STEM
Being around nature is relaxing. It can also improve a child’s performance in STEM.
Research suggests that the exploration and discovery of the world outdoors can rewire the brain, making it easier for kids to understand concepts that are at the center of learning STEM.
The research was conducted with the participation of about 100 first-graders. The participants went through a series of conservation tasks involving water, coins, strings, and clay. All participants were tasked to carry out hands-on demonstrations or merely observe. Those who did hands-on demonstration showed a deeper grasp of the conservation principle compared to those who merely observed. In fact, the researchers found that about 30 percent of passive observers did not understand conservation during any of the tasks compared to only 4 percent of active learners.
Learning in the classroom is not always the best way to understand the lesson. Witnessing it first-hand turns an abstract concept into experience, and it is not likely to be forgotten any time soon. Hands-on learning has been proven effective in teaching both children and adults alike.
In another study, this time involving college undergrads, the researchers wanted to see whether the hands-on experience will help their students better understand physics concepts.
Using Technology to Your Advantage
The internet has enabled people to access almost limitless resources on every subject unimaginable. Unsurprisingly, there are tons of blogs and ebooks, shows, videos, software programs, and other online materials that can be used to improve a child’s performance in STEM.
The website of NASA, for example, has a portal for young learners who want to know more about space, aeronautics, robotics, and physics. There are images, activities, and videos for all age groups. There are other online learning platforms that offer interactive exercises that teach STEM.
Mastering STEM does not happen overnight. It is built over the years through continuous learning. So, if your child is struggling now, they only need support from you and, eventually, they will be able to excel in the field.