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Ways to Ignite Interest in STEM Without Forcing It

Ways to Ignite Interest in STEM Without Forcing It

We’ve all been kids once. Usually, if we’re forced to do something, it makes us not want to do it that much more. So why, then, do we think it will be any different with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)?

LifeHacker’s Melanie Pinola says that we can still get our young students interested in STEM- all the while not having to explicitly force it on them.

"Beyond helping with their homework (or having them explain Common Coremath to you), we can immerse them in STEM every day—without forcing it on them—and make it actually kind of cool.”

Make STEM recreational, not a chore, she says.

She offers several ways to begin doing this. First, she says, make it applicable to real life.

Teaching science, through cooking, is one of her big suggestions.

“….even normal daily things like explaining what happens when water boils, why toast burns, or why you should melt butter if you want the cookies to be chewy are ways to sneak in math and science without being pedantic.”

In that same vein, she recommends not focusing on the “lesson” behind STEM, but instead the experience. She recommends doing this through frequent trips to the local museum or zoo, through purchasing STEM toys and games for play time, and watching science/technology shows during TV time.

And in order to ensure kids stick with it, she suggests supporting a decreased focused on the grades and instead “praise the process.”

"STEM fields are tough. They’re more rigorously graded than other subjects, and with test results such a huge focus in education today, students likely aren’t getting enough of the inspiring hands-on learning that leads to lasting interest. Instead, kids develop “math anxiety” and quit science because they don’t think they’re smart,” she says.

Focusing on the process, instead, she says, encourages kids to keep working.

"It doesn’t have to be outright praise. It can be as simple as doing a STEM-based activity with your child and saying, 'hey, how did you do that?' and be interested in the process.”

Read her full list of recommendations here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

1/12/2016

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