August 7, 2020
Every day, your students make choices that affect their future. You want them to understand that their choices matter — and enlarge their view of what’s possible. Here’s some valuable information you can use to make sure they consider career options that involve science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
Let students know that
New opportunities are opening up. Cultural shifts and initiatives to offer equal opportunities in STEM careers mean greater gender and ethnic diversity than in the past. “Increase diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM” is a goal in America’s Strategy for STEM Education. Outdated ideas like “girls aren’t good at math” and “science isn’t for everyone” have been exposed as myths. Increasingly, STEM fields are attracting more people like Shuri, the fearless young woman who’s the chief science and technology officer of the high-tech nation Wakanda in the movie Black Panther.
STEM is opening up. You might have a student with the potential to create a new tool or product that will benefit humanity. But if no one in his family has gone to college, he doesn’t know any scientists or engineers, and he’s struggling in math class, he might think a STEM career is beyond his reach. Leaders in STEM education, however, say STEM is much more than the sum of its parts. Modern STEM education also incorporates the arts and design as well as skills like problem solving and behaviors like perseverance and cooperation. Students can tap into their strengths and interests to create their entry point. In his book Curious, for example, Ian Leslie says Apple founder Steve Jobs was “a merely competent technician” but it was his broad range of interests (including music), combined with a drive to succeed, that led his company to launch the first successful MP3 player.
Your 21st CCLC program is the perfect place for students to explore STEM because you can
- Introduce interesting STEM experiences in a low-stress, high-support environment.
- Tap into student voice and choice and give young people time to play or “tinker” with STEM ideas and materials.
- Use project-based learning to help students connect STEM topics they’re learning in school with real-life problem-solving opportunities.
- Engage local organizations and people with STEM connections so that students see that STEM is all around them — and is a possible career pathway for people like them.
Y4Y is your “go-to” for STEM because it has resources like
- Free online professional development courses with ready-to-use tools in STEM, citizen science, project-based learning, strategic partnerships and college and career readiness
- Project and activity ideas from four federal agencies that have partnered on STEM Initiatives with the U.S. Department of Education’s Nita M. Lowey 21st CCLC Grant Program: the Institute of Museum and Library Services (making and tinkering); NASA (engineering design challenges); the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (watershed project activities); and the National Park Service (place-based citizen science)
- A downloadable guide to designing computational thinking activities and curated resources on computer science, coding, robotics
These days, STEM is at the forefront as the world looks to research scientists for a vaccine that will end the coronavirus pandemic. Take advantage of this moment to gather students (virtually, if need be) around the idea of STEM as something that’s relevant to their lives — and a career path filled with as much potential as they are.