Your KIDS Are the FUTURE of Engineering
The other day I happened to be watching a video on my cell phone from Destin Sandlin on his “SmarterEveryDay” YouTube channel and my 9-year-old daughter sat next to me. She was instantly ingrained in watching them hit a golf ball at 500 mph to see at which point it would fail. Not only was I proud, but I was also excited to see her interest. As parents, we are in control of the future of engineering. “Why?” you ask? Because our children are the future of engineering.
According to Elsevier, a global information analytics company specializing in Science and health, one of the top ten major challenges facing engineering in the next decade is to make STEM more appealing to young students. They estimated in 2018 the United States had about 1.2 million STEM jobs unfilled.
Getting them excited about STEM at an early age is the key to giving them the skills to be critical thinkers. As technology moves forward at such an exponential rate, it is important to get their minds opened up to understanding the technology. Here are 3 simple things you can do right now to guide the future of engineering.
1. Encourage them with questions.
You are camping with your kids and they are skipping rocks on a pond. Ask of them some well-formulated questions like “Why does the rock sink?”, “Why do some rocks skip better than others?” and “What is the best way to throw the rock, and why?”. Often in our busy lives, it is easy to answer questions quickly without prompting them to think it through. These types of STEM-based thought-provoking questions can be added to almost anything you do.
2. Get them involved.
I was surprised when I started to investigate all the STEM opportunities for kids in my local communities. Our High School was offering a program called Camp Invention for grades K-6. This is where kids are challenged with a real problem they need to solve with technology. The Museum and Science Center near us in Rochester, NY is another good way to get them involved with lots of exhibits and interactive STEM fun. You may have to do a little digging in your community and schools to see what they have to offer; however, STEM programs are everywhere.
3. Let them explore.
Exploring is something that should be encouraged at any age, even if it means they get dirty or greasy. A young innovator first must be comfortable exploring the world around them safely. One of the ways we do that in my household is hiking. We take time on our hikes to explore the surroundings. Many times we have taken apart old and unusable toys and electronics to see how they work. Broken toys can go a long way to help them understand why it stopped working. Exploring is essential to making STEM appealing.
You probably never thought of how your parenting could affect the future of engineering for all mankind. You are not alone. I hope that each teaching moment leads to new discovery and makes STEM programs more appealing to my children. After all, as parents, who don’t want to give our children the best chance to succeed? Our children are the future innovators of this world.
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