As a mom of 2 high school engineering students, I’m often asked what I did to foster their love of STEM. Honestly, there was nothing I didn’t do! I’ve always encouraged my kids curiosity, challenged them to think differently about the world, and been supportive of their ideas.
Today I’m honored to share a guest post by Poornima Chebrolu, mom of Anika Chebrolu. Anika is a STEM star who won this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge (and won $25,000!) for finding a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 in an attempt to find a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic and is sharing 3 ways you can encourage STEM learning in your home.
This post is by Poornima Chebrolu, parent of the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge winner
As a parent, this year has been full of unknowns. The pandemic has brought renewed attention to the resiliency of parents, educators, and our children. Families are finding new ways to support our students, and foster effective learning environments at home.
Parents and guardians work tirelessly to ensure our children are set up for future success, and are able to pursue their dreams. This brings me to the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
Our students need STEM skills to thrive in the modern workforce. It’s imperative that we offer opportunities for them to hone these skills at home and in school. What’s more, the pandemic has pulled the need for access to STEM resources into sharper focus, with 77% of the world saying that a strong STEM education is crucial.
How to Encourage Your Child to Become a STEM Star at Home
Here are a few (easy!) ways to support your child’s STEM education at home.
STEM: No Skills Required
You don’t need to be a scientist, engineer or mathematician to support your child’s interest in STEM. Similarly, no matter what career path your learner ends up taking, STEM skills are essential for success in today’s evolving global economy.
As explained by the U.S. Department of Education, “In an ever-changing, increasingly complex world, it’s more important than ever that our nation’s youth are prepared to bring knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions. These are the kinds of skills that students develop in science, technology, engineering, and math—disciplines collectively known as STEM.”
STEM competencies set students up for success in future careers by equipping them with the ability to solve problems, think critically and creatively and collaborate with others.
#1 – Encourage Curiosity
Did you know that curiosity can promote more meaningful learning? To support STEM learning at home, we can harness the innate curiosity of our kids.
An article from MachineDesign explains this well, “The approach of today’s U.S. education system increasingly revolves around tests, which can intimidate students and might not teach them the importance of what they are learning. But what we really need are people who are curious, who are free to explore, tinker, and not afraid to fail.”
- Explore STEM careers
- Support critical thinking by asking thoughtful questions.. In turn, try to be responsive to any (and all) of your child’s questions.
- Support your child’s interests – it helps develop passion!
#2 – Challenge Your Student
Challenge activities are an excellent way to support STEM learning at home. STEM challenges use design thinking – a structured framework for identifying, testing and refining potential solutions to a real-world problem. STEM challenges fuel your child’s curiosity and help them get excited about what they’re learning.
- 3M and Discovery Education provide several free STEM resources for families and interactive activities you can complete together at home. The annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge is a unique opportunity for students to work alongside STEM experts to solve timely real-world problems.
- The STEM Laboratory offers a list of over 50 STEM activities to engage younger learners.
- I love KiwiCo’s compilation of DIY projects – excellent way to stimulate students’ curiosity!
- Common Sense Media’s STEM app guide highlights resources that help students develop and apply a conceptual understanding of STEM by solving puzzles, designing solutions to novel problems, and creating new inventions.
#3- Offer Support
When it comes to STEM education, parent or guardian support is absolutely crucial. Create a nurturing environment for which to learn. It isn’t always about being right or wrong – mistakes are part of the process!
Remind your child that they CAN do STEM. Celebrate accomplishments, big and small. Show interest in what your student is learning at school. Encourage growth by constantly challenging yourself and your child to learn something new.
These small steps can add up in a big way, like they did for my STEM star, Anika Chebrolu. Anika won this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge (and won $25,000!) for finding a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 in an attempt to find a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic. I couldn’t be prouder!
I hope that Anika’s story encourages you to support your own student’s STEM education at home.
No compensation was received for sharing this guest post and all opinions are those of the guest poster. Affiliate links are included in this post.