By: Dan Wyrick K-8 Elementary Program Consultant and Director of Nature by Design Acampo, CA
Did you drive or ride in a car today? Are you using a computer or tablet to read this blog? Have you eaten a piece of fruit today? Have you visited a doctor or dentist recently?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, you have benefited from the expertise of someone who has a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) career. A world without people in these careers would be very different from what we live in today. In such a world, disease would run rampant, advances in technology would be nonexistent, and the environment would be a disaster.
STEM careers include all occupations that require one to be educated in any of those areas of study, such as careers in the physical, earth, and life sciences as well as computer science, mathematics, and engineering. Careers in health professions and health technology are also included as STEM careers. According to estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in these disciplines will grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022 (Stem 101: Intro to Tomorrow's Jobs, 2014).
As teachers, we want to equip our students with the skills they will need to do well and be happy in any career they choose. However, how can we develop a love and passion for science and a desire to pursue a career in STEM? Following are some ideas that can help accomplish this goal. You may already be doing some of these—if so, keep up the good work!
• Start a STEM expo or fair at your school.
• Assign student projects that focus on careers in STEM.
• Provide project-based learning opportunities in your science and math classes.
• Incorporate career education in class field trips—for example, ask guides and presenters how they got into their line of work.
• Invite science-career guest speakers, such as parents and community members.
• Implement a Science Career day or week.
• Implement a Famous Scientist day or week.
• Encourage students to ask questions. When they do ask a question, do not just answer it—start a discussion on the topic. Take their curiosity and build on it.
• Help students to experiment. Experiments are a great way for children to learn how to think scientifically and develop problem-solving skills. Experiments do not have to be elaborate; the goal is to get students to think critically.
• Find science in the classroom. Look for everyday examples, and discuss the science behind the activities.
• Share your own scientific interests. If you have a science-related passion of your own, share it with your students. Seeing your enthusiasm about a subject might excite them.
• Look for science-related apps. These are a great way to get children to explore science without even realizing they are learning.
• Plan visits to local museums, science centers, or educational sites (zoos and aquariums) designed to educate children about science.
• Explore forests or wildlife reserves. These are fun locations to introduce science to your students. Help your students to learn to identify local animals and plant life.
If you are looking for an inquiry-based science curriculum, check out By Design Science for grades 1–8. There are many wonderful features of the program—especially beneficial to both students and teachers are the Careers in Science, People in Science, and Science and Technology features that appear at the end of each chapter.
By Design Science offers a flexible hybrid-learning environment that includes eBooks and Online Teacher Resources. We believe that a blended educational environment, one that includes both print and digital tools, servers both teacher and student as they learn. If you would like more information about this customized curriculum, contact Kendall Hunt Publishing.