At the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) we believe that every child can invent and use their creativity to make their mark on the world. To ensure that all children have the opportunity to pursue their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) dreams, it’s essential that parents and educators both promote the importance of diversity in these fields and help the next generation of innovators see themselves and others as capable creators.
Below are a few tips you can implement either in the classroom or at home to help children explore the importance of diversity in STEM.
Read Books that Celebrate Diversity
Kids benefit from reading stories that highlight representation across race, gender, ability and experience. Not only does this help them develop empathy toward others who might differ from them, but the act of reading itself has been shown to stimulate creativity and develop crucial social-emotional skills.
Here are a few of our favorite books that champion STEM diversity:
- “Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons” by Arlyne Simon
This encouraging story follows young Abby’s innovative journey, demonstrating how inventors must follow their curiosity, be persistent to overcome obstacles and think creatively to develop solutions. Children will also enjoy the activity page at the end of this book.
- “The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan: Inventor, Entrepreneur, Hero” by Joan DiCicco
Both thrilling and inspiring, the story of NIHF Inductee Garrett Morgan comes to life in this book. A prolific Black inventor and entrepreneur, Morgan overcame racial barriers and dedicated his life to the safety and welfare of others.
- “In the Leaves” by Huy Voun Lee
This beautifully illustrated book follows the main character Xiao Ming as he teaches readers how to read 10 different Chinese characters. Throughout the story, readers discover the beauty and logic behind the Chinese language and develop crucial social-emotional learning skills that will help them communicate with others.
Introduce STEM Activities that Explore Empathy
Hands-on activities are a great way to both engage children and help them learn in active ways that lead to improved critical thinking skills and motivation. NIHF’s education team has developed a special STEM challenge that gives participants the opportunity to explore the importance of empathy.
With this activity, you can invite children to brainstorm an invention to help other people, and then create a prototype using recyclables and readily available materials. Kids learn that empathy is like a superpower that allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and take their needs into consideration. Included in this activity are modifications educators can use to allow students to work together in groups and present their work to classmates for constructive feedback and further development.
Explore STEM Careers
Despite years of concentrated effort to improve diversity within the STEM workforce, there is still work to do. One of the keys to helping children of all backgrounds to pursue a potential STEM career is to share the many different jobs and opportunities that are available.
We invite you to print out a copy of our Camp Invention® Career Explorations Poster for your home or classroom, and periodically introduce different STEM-related jobs that children might never have heard of before!
Visit Our Blog for More STEM Learning Tips
Check out our blog to learn more about the importance of promoting greater inclusivity and diverse perspectives in STEM fields.