STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is definitely a theme in society at the moment, from education to employment growth you will see the acronym used extensively. We have all heard at some stage that jobs that exist today will not exist in 20 years time. You don't have to be Einstein to see the link between a solid foundation in STEM education and jobs of the future based on our current use of technology and how quickly it is evolving. Even if you believe the world is coming to an end, STEM foundations will provide great post-apocalyptic skills to rebuild world. Hollywood tells us that every time a new disaster movie or TV show is released!
Often the focus is on the upper secondary level of education - how do we get students to choose STEM careers? The problem is they have made the decision usually long before they fill out the QTAC form and even well before they do their senior subject selections. I have been a secondary teacher for 20 years (oh that makes me feel old) and students have made the decision of whether they are a STEM student when they arrive at high school and this based on the experiences they have in primary school and home.
Kindergarten graduation is now one of the first education milestones we celebrate and plan a successful future from.
They aren't the students who were Science and Maths competition winners at their school and they are not the top students in the class. They are students who have gained an appreciation of how STEM can be applied in everyday life. There is always this misconception that people who enjoy Science and Maths are 'geeks' and 'nerds' and way too smart to be normal. I don't know how many times over the years when I have said that I am a Science and Maths teacher that people have said, 'I was never smart enough'. STEM subjects are like Arts subjects - unless you practice the skills you will never get better. Once you learn and practice scientific method and design method, the knowledge gained through inquiry begins to become easier. We need to treat STEM subjects like we treat Arts and Sport, start early and encourage the skill development as it is a set of skills that we will continue to use till the day we die regardless of whether we are in a STEM career or not.
A simple forest walk encourages lots of questions.
Where can parents start? Well, I wrote an article a few years back - Eco-friendly activities for kids and I agree with every word still - curiosities shelf, go walking, do gardening. Teach them spacial thinking crafts like knitting, crochet, sewing and origami. Ask lots of questions and get them thinking. Encourage them to question the world and explore.
Another option, particularly if you have kindergarten-aged children and are located in Brisbane is Kindy Science. " STEM education: Kindergarten is where it should begin. Children must develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths at a young age to excel at them when they are older." (Extract from SMH, Jane Hunter, August 2015)
Every day toys used by Kindy Science to encourage scientific thought.
Kindy Science has been developed to enrich and extend early childhood aged children in STEM using engaging activities that demonstrate to children and parents that science can be so much more simple than the electronics we so often associate it with.
A STEM activity where students analyse the best materials for a wind powered generator.
The program runs over the school term and depending on the public holidays is a general 10-week unit and is delivered by a veteran Science and Maths teacher with 22 years experience. The unit for Term 4, 2018 is Energy and Electricity and other units such as Forensic Science, Growing Bugs and Brewing and Everyday Reactions are all planned for the future.
Currently, Kindy Science is operating from locations in Camp Hill on Monday mornings and Sunnybank on Wednesday mornings and has plans to expand into the western and northern suburbs in 2019. Kindy Science is also doing lessons at selected daycares around Brisbane.
Lessons are $10 per week or $100 for the term but for new families joining there is a 20% discount for term 4. If more than one child in the family is enrolled, the 2nd or 3rd child will get a further 20% discount.
If you would like to enrol for the Term 4 unit at Camp Hill or Sunnybank or enquire about whether your daycare can be involved, contact Kindy Science at firstname.lastname@example.org
or check out the Kindy Science Facebook page to see what they are up to at the various locations around Brisbane.