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Trends in STEM

The Power of STEM Role Models

As educators prepare their students to succeed in a rapidly evolving world, providing quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education has become increasingly important. To achieve this, classroom engagement is key. One of the most effective ways to create and maintain engagement is by introducing relatable STEM role models who will show students what they too can achieve.

To learn more about why this strategy is so effective, we invite you to read an excerpt from our white paper, “The Importance of Early Exposure to Innovation.”

Relatable role models are essential during a child’s developmental learning state, as children who see themselves in others imitate traits with which they most identify. For students interested in STEM, exposure to role models involved in these fields has the power to maintain their interest and increase the likelihood they will innovate in the future.

The effectiveness of role models has roots in what’s called “observational learning,” where children learn and copy behaviors and actions by watching and listening to other people. Common examples range from a child learning how to swing a bat after watching a baseball game, to the repetition of an inappropriate word first heard on the playground. According to early childhood educator Kylie Rymanowicz from Michigan State University, positive reinforcement is crucial in determining which behaviors will stick:

“People are more likely to imitate a behavior if they get some sort of positive reinforcement for it. For example, if a child overhears another child swearing, he might learn new words, but may not necessarily use them. If, however, the child gets some sort of reward for swearing, such as acceptance or encouragement from an adult, an observing child might be more likely to copy this behavior.” 

Instead of persuading children to distance themselves from negative influences, it is more effective to begin encouraging them to learn from role models who represent skills and traits that will positively impact them as they grow.

Read our free white paper today!

To learn more about how introducing inspiring STEM role models can motivate children to innovate and explore, check out our white paper, “The Importance of Early Exposure to Innovation.”

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