What Can You Do To Inspire Youth to Explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers?

Many attention-grabbing articles surfaced this week around the subject of STEM education programs. Are they working? Are programs getting the funding they need to complete their mission? Are educators given enough time in their classroom to teach science curriculum? One article caught my attention, and I thought I would share it here on The Launch Pad.

A survey was released this week on eschoolnews.com with some very interesting statistics. One thousand students were surveyed and reported that their science and math teachers kept their classes interesting. In fact, they rated their teachers with a “B and better.” They felt that their teachers seemed knowledgeable about the subjects being taught, however, youth rated their teachers with a “C or lower” in terms of not sharing STEM career options. High school students reported that they don’t believe STEM knowledge is integral to getting a good job and many believed that a person does not need to be skilled in science and math for a high paying job.

I am sure there will be plenty of discussion around this issue in the coming weeks. It is crucial that educators and industry get the word out to youth that there are exciting and well paid STEM positions out there. Positions like aerospace mathematicians, mechanical engineers, fabrication technicians and meteorologists to name a few. In fact, we don’t just want to have youth think about these career options, we need to inspire them.

What can the Google Lunar X PRIZE do? A few things come to mind that I will be sharing over the next few weeks. For today, my first recommendation is to start a dialogue with your children, your friends’ children, your co-worker’s children about your passion for science and technology. It is important for us to deliver our personal experiences and get kids eager to hear this message. This isn’t just applicable to the classroom. It needs to be talked about in our daily interpersonal activities. Think back to when you were a kid. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did it involve science? If it did, what excited you? If it didn’t, what led you to your path of discovery? Did you have to study certain subjects in school to prepare you for your career? Were there activities you wanted to be involved in that you didn’t know about? After you ask yourself these questions, think of ways to deliver your inspirational message.

Some helpful hints….

1. Find something relatable. Talk about video game systems, outdoor adventures, something cool you saw on TV. This is a good starting point to begin the conversation.

2. Sound passionate. There’s nothing worse than having to listen to a boring adult talk about a boring job.

3. Re-visit the subject. Don’t be surprised if your first conversation about this lasts a nanosecond. Be patient. Sparking their interest is the first step.

4. Be specific. Kids are smart. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about the technical aspects of your job.

5. Show them examples of your work. Kids love something they can see, eat, touch and smell.

The Payoff…you may not know for some time whether you have inspired a child about science and technology, but at least you will know that you are doing your job in providing the tools needed to increase positive messages towards STEM careers.

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