If you take a moment to think about the world’s greatest innovations and advances, it’s likely you’ll identify innovations that come from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. To maintain and even surpass our current levels of innovation, we need to ensure diversity in these fields.
Research has shown that diverse teams can generate more creative ideas compared to teams with a more homogeneous makeup. With greater diversity, STEM fields will be better equipped to solve the increasingly complex challenges of the future.
STEM learning is for everyone, and it’s essential that children of all communities, backgrounds, learning styles and experiences are both encouraged and provided with equitable access to pursue their innovative dreams. Read below for a couple of ways you can explore the topic of STEM diversity with your child.
Find Diverse STEM Role Models
Children are more likely to invent as they grow up if they are exposed to innovation at an early age. By introducing your child to relatable STEM role models, you can awaken their inventive spirit while showing them that everyone has the potential to become a world-changing creator, innovator or entrepreneur.
At the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), we have the privilege of honoring many of the world’s greatest and most impactful inventors: our NIHF Inductees. These individuals represent many ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds, and their inspiring lessons and stories inform the development of all our education programs.
We encourage your family to learn more about our Inductees by reading some of the stories behind their iconic inventions.
Read Books that Celebrate Diverse Innovators
Sharing books with your family is a great way to spark meaningful discussions about STEM diversity and the power of creativity. Below are just a few of our favorites:
Books for Elementary School Aged Children
“The Story of Kites: Amazing Chinese Inventions” by Ying Chang Compestine
This book tells the story of three creative brothers who brainstorm a way to scare away the pesky birds from their rice fields. Their solution is to build wings using straw, paper and feathers to chase them away! Combining gorgeous illustrations made from hand-cut, colored paper, with a tale that celebrates Chinese culture, this story explores the invention of kites and inspires children to invent something of their own.
“Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor” by Laurie Wallmark
While NIHF Inductee Hedy Lamarr was most known for her work as an actress during Hollywood’s Golden Age, in private she was a gifted inventor. This picture book tells the inspiring story of how Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that remains essential to the security found in technology today.
Books for Middle School Aged Children
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition” by William Kamkwamba
After a crippling drought struck William Kamkwamba’s village in Malawi, Africa, his family’s crop was destroyed, placing them in a perilous situation. Looking for answers, he paid a visit to his village library and after exploring the science books, he came up with the idea to build a windmill. Made of old bicycle parts and metal scraps, this windmill was able to bring electricity to his family’s home and pump water to regrow their fields. This true story is an inspiration for innovators of all ages and was recently adapted into a Netflix film your family can enjoy together.
“Emmy in the Key of Code” by Aimee Lucido
Twelve-year-old Emmy has just moved to a new city, and while attending a new school, feels out of place. However, things improve after taking her first coding class and befriending a girl named Abigail. Together, the two bond over music and its similarities to the language of code. This story provides children with a heartfelt story that combines coding, music and poetry in a way that appeals to artistic kids who might not be typically interested in STEM subjects.
Check Out Our Blog
To learn more about encouraging kids to explore, create and collaborate in STEM, we invite you to visit our blog.