Creative ways to connect children to science, encourage STEM

The pandemic has spotlighted inequities in the sciences and science education, especially the lack of equal access, but it has also sparked increased awareness and a desire for change to begin addressing the issues. 

STATEPOINT MEDIA – The pandemic has deeply impacted learning experiences for students across America. As educators and students return to school this year, they will continue to navigate these challenges as they look for ways to redefine learning. The pandemic also put a stark spotlight on inequities in the sciences and science education, especially the lack of equal access. The good thing is that this has sparked an increased awareness and a desire for change to begin addressing these issues.

With new norms of educational learning still being defined, there is opportunity to find creative and engaging ways to expose young and diverse thinkers to the world of science. One way to do this is by connecting science to the things children are already passionate about – sports, music, dance, art, gaming, or anything else they may be interested in.

Rapping teacher, Dwayne Reed, shares creative ways educators and parents can help children find a “way-in” to science that will ignite passion for STEM learning and make science more approachable:

1. Extend STEM beyond the classroom. Show children how to apply the scientific method in their day-to-day lives and activities. As individuals, we make observations daily and ask questions – or hypothesize – based on what we observe. Parents and educators can foster an inquisitive mindset by challenging children to explore the world around them. This creates fun and relatable learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.

2. Connect personal passions to STEM learning. When students lack confidence in a particular subject, it can feel intimidating. As a result, they can often have a hard time seeing themselves as successful in that subject or can lose interest altogether. As teachers and educators, we want to encourage our children and show them they can be anything they want. One of the ways to do this is by connecting what they already love to something they are not as confident in. STEM is a perfect example of this. Show students how science can be applied to their other interests, including sports, music, dance, gaming, art, or anything else they may be passionate about. By helping connect the dots for students, they can turn their passions into something that can benefit the world around them.

3. Keep a pulse on new educational resources. Stay updated on new resources and information that could positively impact your students. The great thing about this is that teachers and parents can both get involved. A few ways you can stay up to date are reading blogs, educational articles, and looking for resources on social media. One learning resource to check out is 3M’s Science at Home video series. This online library of DIY science experiments uses common household items to help make STEM learning fun and accessible while showing children they can connect science to just about anything. Teachers will also note that the step-by-step resources include national science teaching standards for easy lesson planning.

4. Challenge children to try something new. Challenge children to put themselves into roles they may not naturally see themselves in. Provide encouragement, resources, and confidence to get them to the next level. With a bit of creativity, you can open their eyes to a whole world of opportunities they may not be thinking about. Make STEM learning feel relatable and fun – even if it’s new for them. It’s all about reframing the way students look at the world and giving them assurance and an opportunity to explore what’s around them.

The importance of maintaining a stable and engaging learning experience for students remains a priority. And with just a few creative learning techniques and models, educators and parents can ensure their students are connected, actively learning, and feeling encouraged both in and out of the classroom.