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In Lighting the Path to Innovation Blog
authored by Encouraging STEM Curiosity in Children

At Sensuron, we understand the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. Without our talented engineers, the work we do would be impossible. Additionally, the United States is a global leader in technology and innovation due to the hard work of STEM professionals. The future of STEM careers in the United States is bright – with some fields expected to see as much as 62% growth by 2020. However, despite this outlook, there aren’t enough American students pursuing education in STEM-related fields to fill the demand. So, how can we address this gap and encourage our children get excited about STEM so the U.S. can stay a global leader in innovation?

Embrace curiosity

Science rewards curiosity. A scientific discovery is often accompanied by multiple revisions and improvements to an idea, and it takes perseverance and a genuine desire to figure out the answer to stay committed to the process. Children are born curious, but often lose that curiosity when they grow older. We need to encourage kids to ask questions and seek out answers. So, the next time a child asks why the sky is blue, don’t answer with a “because,” or an “I don’t know,” but instead with “Why don’t we figure that out together?”

Seek STEM related playtime

Science and math can be fun, but far too few perceive these subjects that way. As a testament to this, The Toy Industry Association reports that only 20% of annual toy sales in the last two years have been educational toys. It’s up to us to make STEM fun for our children, either by encouraging them to play with toys that promote problem-solving like Legos®, K’Nex®, or GoldieBlox® planning simple experiments – like the classic vinegar and baking soda volcano – or exposing them to figures in popular culture that make science engaging and exciting, like Bill Nye the Science Guy. Anything that showcases to kids that science and math are more than just words in a textbook.

Addressing the gender gap

Females make up 51% of the U.S. population, but less than 25% of those employed are in STEM-related fields. This leaves a huge opportunity for STEM growth by taking advantage of this untapped potential. Although STEM may have been traditionally viewed as a “male career field,” this is changing due to the increasing visibility of female STEM role models like Megan Smith, the first female chief technology officer of the United States, and organizations like Girls Who Code, that aim to get young girls excited and involved in STEM. Even locally in Austin, we have organizations such as Girlstart that is committed to fostering STEM skills development, an understanding of the importance of STEM as a way to solve the world’s major problems, as well as an interest in STEM electives, majors, and careers. However despite these major advances, the gender gap continues to exist. It’s important to teach girls that STEM careers have no gender boundaries, and give them the confidence to pursue career opportunities in the field.

We see the results of a strong STEM workforce all around us in the technology we use everyday. By encouraging our children to stay curious and interested in math, science engineering and technology, we are ensuring the United States’ position as a technology leader for generations to come.

Additional STEM and education tips:

Tips for Getting Girls Involved with STEM

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