One of the biggest challenges facing educators these days is developing students’ STEM skills. When STEM is introduced early, children build related skills throughout their education, putting them at a distinct advantage later in life.
In this age of increased dependence on technology, there is a widening demand for advanced skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to the US Department of Commerce, occupations that require STEM skills are growing at a faster rate than those that don’t (17 percent vs. 9.8 percent.) This increased demand has produced a skills gap, which is likely to widen in the coming years.
As a parent, you are probably wondering what you can do to improve your child’s STEM skills. The good news is that there are plenty of resources that can help you do that, and they are easily accessible.
STEM Resources for Parents
- NASA’s website is a great resource for learning about aeronautics and physics. There is a range of activities for students of all grade levels, including video clips, games, posters, and a kids’ club.
- Not only is coding a useful skill, it’s also a great way to develop your kids’ reasoning abilities. One of the best online resources for teaching kids to code is MIT’s Scratch Academy, which simplifies coding language into building blocks kids can use to create animation.
- Khan Academy is an excellent resource to help your child learn, and there are countless STEM-related interactive exercises for children of all ages. The personalized dashboard lets parents identify and target weaknesses, and provides parents with a progress report.
- Kinetic City is an engaging science-based game hub built around tasking children with a mission to save their cyber world from its enemies. It’s a fun way to combine technology and collaboration, and kids are motivated by earning points for applying what they’ve learned.
- Science Buddies is a website designed to give children ideas for science fair projects. There are pages for parents, ideas for family activities, and a page where kids can ask experts for help when they’re stuck.
- Long-running PBS science series NOVA has a page dedicated to STEM resources for educators and parents. It offers multimedia content and teacher guides for a variety of kid-friendly STEM topics.
- The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago features some great interactive games and activities, including a virtual periodic table, easy experiments using household objects, and science-related videos.
- How to Smile is a collection of educational resources and tools and is full of ideas for interesting ways to teach science and math in a non-classroom setting. Projects range from building a pulley to estimating the size of Earth. Filter results by age, subject, cost, prep and learning time, and language.
- The National STEM Video Game Challenge, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute, is a wonderful way to motivate children into developing their STEM skills by designing an original video game.
If you would like some help developing your child’s STEM skills, visit the K12 website and check out the online science courses. These courses are suitable for homeschooling or as a supplement to your child’s existing school curriculum.