This post is sponsored by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.
From potion making in the backyard, enlisting my kids to help me interview an astronaut at NASA headquarters, to making plans to go to the USA Science & Engineering Festival at the end of April, there isn’t much we wouldn’t do to encourage our kids into learning more about science. Our curious kids always want to learn more so it’s only natural to provide them with hands on learning opportunities that allow them to act like scientists as they dive deeper into subjects they want to know more about.
Even though The U.S. Bureau of Statistics projects STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs will increase by over 20 percent in the next five years alone, there is a lack of young adults interested in science careers in the United States. According to a recent study by the Lemselson-MIT Invention Index, which gauges innovation aptitude among young adults, 34% said they didn’t know much about the fields, a third said they were too challenging, and 28% said they were not well-prepared at school to seek further education in these areas (from STEM Education is Key to the U.S.’s Economic Future). US News & World Report’s The State of STEM and Jobs reports that women, Hispanics, and African- Americans are the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity due to underrepresentation in many STEM related careers.
According to US News & World Report, “Hands-on learning that links math and science to the real world works best for all students.” Our challenge as parents is to foster an interest in science at a young age. Let them be curious. Let them experiment. Continue to encourage their interest as they get older, especially since it tends to disappear around middle school.
One way to keep kids interested is through the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Well known as the nation’s premier science competition for middle school students (grades 5-8) the Young Scientist Challenge targets students in the years when research indicates their interest in science begins to fade and encourages them to explore scientific concepts and creatively communicate their findings. It’s just one way that 3M and Discovery Education support middle school education by encouraging the next generation of American scientists to excel in science and technology.
The Young Scientist Challenge pairs the 10 challenge finalists with a 3M scientist mentor. 3M fosters a culture of innovation and collaboration driven by the creative exchange of ideas and involves mentors who help guide finalists to create an innovation that will be presented to a panel of judges at the final competition at the 3M Innovation Center in October.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, here’s a peek at the competition timeline:
- April 22, 2014 – Video Entry Deadline. Even though this is coming up soon, it’s not a daunting task! Middle school students are asked to create a one to two-minute video describing a scientific challenge from everyday life and a potential solutions. Entries can be submitted through the Young Scientist Challenge Entry Page.
- June/July – Ten finalists will be announced and have an exclusive opportunity to work directly with a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship program, during which they were challenged to create an innovation which solves a problem in society. State Merit Winners are also announced at this time.
- October – Finalists will demonstrate their scientific innovation and creativity in a series of challenges at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN where the grand prize winner gets $25,000, a trip from Discovery Student Adventures, contest trophy, and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.”
Even if your kids aren’t in middle school quite yet, it’s never too early to encourage a love of science. Here are 4 great places to start:
- Join me for a #STEMChat on Twitter this Tuesday, April 8 from 9-10 pm ET as we talk about How to Raise America’s Top Young Scientist. For more information about this week’s #STEMChat, visit the post on The Maker Mom for details!
- Splurge on a subscription to Appleseed Lane, a kit that contains everything you need to complete 4 hands-on STEM related projects delivered directly to your door. We recently received our first box after trying one at a neighbor’s house and the kids loved making a string telephone, tambourine, kazoos, and rubber band guitar using the materials that came in the Sound & Music box. S a parent and former teacher with a critical eye, I liked how the materials were aligned with National Science Education Standards and key concepts were highlighted in the beautifully designed fold out brochure that comes with each month’s kit. Also, Co-founder Cynthia Marbley is a former teacher and parent in the DC Metro Area and created the company with her neighbor who also has a background in education!
- Foster a sense of wonder with Wonderopolis. Even though I don’t always visit the site, I love my subscription to the free Wonder of the Day emails that I get in my inbox that include a link to a video about the day’s wonder, facts in the Did You Know? section, vocabulary hit list in Wonder Words, thigns to try, and ways to extend learning through suggestions in Still Wondering.
- Be mindful of the toys you purchase. The next time a friend or loved one asks you what they should get for your child for a birthday or holiday gift, point them to my Babble post of 10 Gifts to Inspire STEM Learning in Kids.