STEM And Our Children: Yes, It’s Time For That Talk

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STEM And Our Children: Yes, It’s Time For That Talk

STEM KIDS

We all want our children to succeed in whatever field they feel it’s their heart’s desires to go into. We also want their future to see a world that’s going in a better direction than we’re currently going, right? Well, what our children want to do will depend on the values we teach them now. Without pushing them into it, we should be talking to our children about the value of harder higher education fields. We should be talking to them about STEM.

Understanding the importance

It’s important, as parents, that we understand the value of the STEM fields. It’s easy to grow disenfranchised with schools and how they seem to peg our young people into limiting forms of living. But they can also help them achieve great things. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are fields we all depend on as a race. It’s not just about helping us develop as a people, however. It’s also about developing the individual. STEM fields don’t just teach us how to do science or engineering. They teach us the importance of empirical facts and how we read and react to data. Not just in the lab, but in our own lives.

Setting role models to follow

Our system of setting up and following role models in today’s society is very broken most of the time. A lot of people we choose for role models are chosen because of their wealth, because of a prestige that almost entirely materialistic. Instead, help your kids find people that are truly worth following in the footsteps of. What kid doesn’t dream of rocket ships, for one? You can show your children that there are people they can idolize who do good for the world. That there are people who do that good while representing them. Race politics can play a huge role in how our children (and our adults) see the roles they can fit into in future. Show them some of the people who show that the way ahead is open to them.

Students at the 8th Annual STEM Career Fair and Exhibition at Georgia Tech on Saturday, April 18, 2015

Students at the 8th Annual STEM Career Fair and Exhibition at Georgia Tech on Saturday, April 18, 2015

Smashing barriers

It’s important that gender is taken into consideration, too. Our education system is, to a fault, skewed. Boys fail in classes that are adjusted to advantage girls. Meanwhile, girls are still dissuaded and ridiculed for pursuing subjects not considered traditional. As a parent, you are able to shape the influences of your children and give them access to people who show them that all these barriers are artificial. With girls, it’s groups like www.Stemettes.org that can show them that girls can do science, math, and engineering, too. Sexism still exists in these fields and will unfortunately still exist in some forms as our children grow up. But we can help our children combat it.

Making money

Let’s be real for a moment, here. None of us are going to pretend that making money isn’t an important part of getting into a line of employment. Think of how difficult it currently is for the young generation to buy a house and get some real assets. You would be naïve to think the paycheck unimportant. Which is just another reason why you should consider pointing them in the direction of STEM degrees. Engineering jobs tend to be the best paying out of the four categories. However, that doesn’t mean that the others aren’t securely paid even for new graduates. Considering how difficult it can be for new graduates to find their feet, the value of that is not to be diminished.

Skills with extraordinary value

Consider looking into the far future with us for a moment. Your child walks out of college with a STEM degree in hand. However, perhaps something in their experience has put them off their field of choice. At the end of a lot of degrees, that might be considered something of a disaster. For STEM students, it’s nothing but a possibility. It’s been shown that STEM education lands people with more than just a highly specialized degree. The skills learned in these courses also make them significantly more employable in other fields, as well. Skills such as mathematics, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication for a start. Seeing that qualification on their resume will get them a warm reception in almost any other field they might choose. It shows skills that can be even more valuable than field experience.

Black Girls CODE mentor Brianna Fugate (photo credit: Jerome Dorn)


Black Girls CODE mentor Brianna Fugate, who is studying a computer science degree at Spelman College (photo credit: Jerome Dorn)

Plenty of opportunity

If they do want to go into a STEM job, then you might worry about their prospects. Their degree will be truly valuable. But they’ll still worry that there are plenty of others who will fight them tooth and nail for only a small selection of job opportunities. That’s not entirely the case, however. In fact, there are worries that we’ll have even more vacant STEM positions in the future. It is a competitive field, but it’s a field with lots of opportunities for people with all kinds of skills. STEM students have the luxury of being a much more valuable commodity on the market than many other degree holders.

A range of paths

As we’ve said, the skills the degree gives and opportunities it leads to are immense. Which means that there’s a broad range of paths that someone with a STEM degree might be able to get into. Even looking at some of the top-paying jobs, it’s easy to see how varied those roles can get. There’s a lot of difference between computer systems networking and biological sciences. Just as there’s a lot of difference between engineering and data analysis. Your child won’t just have to be stuck in one kind of career. They can develop one that spans a diverse range of different workplaces and different experiences. All building on the value of those skills they’ve built.

Saving the human race

Perhaps one of the perks of a STEM degree you might not have thought of is the moral obligation we have to the others of our race. There are a few risks in particular that humanity needs to start doing its damnedest to fight. Climate change means that we need people developing methods of harnessing alternate fuels. Diseases like cancer still decimate the population. Your children could be part of the fight for the safety of the human race. They could get into businesses like www.HeraBioLabs.com and do the tests that will be saving lives in future. Even if they’re not, they will have a knowledge of how important it is thanks to their education. We need more than just scientists and engineers. We need educated young people who realize the importance of them.

Be part of the process

We need people who realize the importance of being scientifically literate. We also need those who will help the children of the future be the same. Teaching is one of the most important professions a person can get into. It’s helping the children in the far future continue the path of progress for us. The process of education is just as important as the end result, after all. If your child has always shown an aspiration to be a teacher, you can help them develop it and help them teach the skills that are truly important.

Black Girls Code joins Google and Cartoon Network for Coding Party

Black Girls Code joins Google and Cartoon Network for Coding Party

Your work starts now

If you want a child to succeed at school, you need to start creating the environment that helps them do that. You can’t expect the child and the school to do all the work. Take an interest in their education, but don’t actively help them do their homework. Facilitate their own learning. Make sure they have an environment at home where they can get their work done without distraction. Help them broaden their minds by reading them books for a young age. Find out if your school has the high standards to match your own. Enroll them in challenges to teach them the value of perseverance. At the same time, don’t focus on the importance of grades, but celebrate the process of learning.

Lighting that spark

So, how exactly do you get your child started on the road to STEM? Having the conversation is a start. Talking about all the good it does them. Talk about collective responsibility for the world and the future of all people. Talk to them about role models and how people just like them are accomplishing great things. Then help them discover the curiosity that comes naturally to most people when it’s given a chance. Take them to museums and make science and learning fun. Watch TV with them that helps them learn about how vast and awesome the universe can be. Sites like www.ParentingScience.com can tell you a lot more about how to spark that curiosity. A lot of parents find that it’s not something that necessarily needs to be forced, only to be given the room to grow.

Of course, not every child needs to go into a STEM degree. If your child tells you they want to be a nurse or a chef or (heavens forbid) a blogger, support them. But tell them they can shoot for the stars and they’ll be more likely to do it.

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