Introducing Children to Inspirational STEM Role Models
For a child to establish any kind of goal for themselves, they must first know what is possible. By identifying a role model at an early age, children can find inspiration to explore the possibilities of working in a similar field. In STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, promoting a diverse range of role models is especially essential to addressing the gaps in diversity that persist in these areas.
Due to the time constraints of a normal school day, it can sometimes be difficult to introduce role models like these to students who might otherwise benefit from this kind of exposure. In our white paper, “The Importance of Early Exposure to Innovation,” we explore ways in which educators can help children find inspiring role models outside the traditional classroom setting.
We invite you to read an excerpt below:
Using Out-of-School Programs to Introduce Role Models
Introducing young minds to innovative, relatable role models and placing them in environments that allow the exploration of these inspirational figures is important; but often, due to lack of funding or an emphasis on standardized testing, these experiences are not given the attention they deserve. One way to address this problem is through the implementation of programming outside the confines of the normal school day.
A study commissioned by the Rand Corp. found that summer programming was especially beneficial for “low-income families who might not have access to educational resources throughout the summer months and for low-achieving students.”
When infused with lessons in STEM, these types of outside programming opportunities can both inspire and encourage those potentially interested in a STEM career to follow through with their desire. A 2006 study published in Science magazine supports this strategy and found that children interested in STEM at an eighth-grade level are significantly more likely to pursue a STEM-related career in college than those who simply perform well on math and science tests. These two studies underscore the importance of exposure to innovation in early education, which sustains student engagement in STEM fields and makes related subjects more accessible for all students.
While educational programs can encourage inventive interests within the confines of a classroom, minority children still face outside obstacles that frequently discourage them from pursuing innovation in their secondary education. To address this discrepancy, elementary and middle schools must collaborate to create out-of-school STEM programs for all students. By introducing these young learners to environments where they can experience how innovation impacts their personal world, they are able to see firsthand how relevant STEM is to their daily lives. The skills they learn within these programs, paired with the inspiration they receive from innovative role models, can have life-changing consequences.
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For more ideas and support in encouraging healthy perspectives, promoting greater inclusivity in learning environments, and guiding our next generation of creators, innovators and leaders, please visit our blog.