When given the chance to dream about their future careers, children rarely hold back. By allowing their imaginations to run wild, they are naturally drawn to jobs that will give them the freedom to innovate and make a difference in the world.
It’s no wonder then that according to a 2017 nationwide survey that asked more than 1,000 boys and girls what they wanted to be when they grew up, four of the top 10 jobs were related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries.
However, as students age, many become disinterested in STEM careers. Not only has this created a shortage of STEM workers in the United States, but has also led to stagnant levels of low diversity in these fields.
Below are three ways instructors can maintain a student’s interest in STEM throughout their education.
Exposure to Innovation
Research from Opportunity Insights states that a primary variable that determines whether a child will grow up to become an inventor is if they are exposed to innovation at an early age. By introducing STEM mentors and role models to children as a part of their education, they are more likely to remain engaged and interested in STEM disciplines.
Children who participate in arts activities are more likely to innovate during their adult lives. According to research from Michigan State University, there exists a strong correlation between an individual’s arts and crafts knowledge, and the likelihood that they will go on to create a patentable invention or start a new company. By encouraging students to embrace their creative side at an early age, parents and educators give students the best chance to grow into future problem solvers.
Embracing Out-of-Classroom Experiences
Out-of-classroom experiences give students the ability to embrace self-directed learning. Such programs can help make up for the lack of exposure to innovation that often occurs in underserved neighborhoods and disproportionately affects some minority and low-income students. Research has shown that Camp Invention® participants experience increased levels of fluency, flexibility and a heightened ability to explain and elaborate as a benefit of attending the one-week program.
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To learn more about why children lose interest in STEM as they age, and to find ways to combat this growing trend, download our free white paper: What Do Children Want To Be When They Grow Up?