Top 3 Tips For Parents On Choosing the Right STEM Program
What Makes a Good STEM Program?
The objective of STEM education is to develop a variety of skillsets that the student can benefit from with real-world application. A good STEM program should include collaboration, hands-on activities, and an open atmosphere that encourages questioning and creative thinking. STEM programs/schools can be started in youth or as a young adult to adult age. Learning how to think critically will be useful at any age. San Diego Global Vision Academy offers STEM learning through K-8. This is a majority of a student’s life in grade school, giving them a solid foundation with the understanding of STEM education.
Here are a few of the top-ranked programs in San Diego.
Private School, The Bishops School in La Jolla is ranked number 1 in high school STEM Education.
San Diego State University specializes in STEM Education and understands the importance of the interdisciplinary approach to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
ThoughtSTEM is an after-school program focused on coding.
Gizmos & Gadgets Kids Lab is a preschool through 8th grade program that offers science, technology, engineering, art, and “maker” workshops.
These are only a few examples of the many programs that are available.
How Can Parents Encourage STEM Education?
There are many ways parents can help encourage children to be interested in STEM, and it starts at home.
If your child or teen is always asking “why”’ and “how, that’s a STEM mindset—and it can be the beginning of a drive to solve important challenges like protecting the environment, curing diseases, or engineering new clean energy technology. Even if the questions seem relentless at times, embrace this curiosity. Take the time to explain the things that you understand, and when your child poses a question that you don’t have an answer to, look up the answer together.
Try educational programming
TV and movie time doesn’t have to be mindless—there is plenty of entertaining programming out there that is strongly related to STEM fields and educational in the process. So, the next time you and your child are browsing Netflix together, give the “documentaries” section a look. Shows like the History Channel’s Modern Marvels, PBS’ NOVA, and the Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth are tried-and-true favorites with hundreds of episodes covering a variety of topics.
Visit a science museum
What better place to allow your child to get up close and hands-on with science than a science museum? There are over 150 science centers around the U.S., and about one third of those even have areas designed specifically for children six years old and under. These museums typically include a variety of exhibits that explain complex and fascinating science and technology concepts in creative and accessible ways—giving visitors the chance to run their own experiments, play with gadgets, or check out live and video-based presentations.
Seek out STEM extracurricular activities
Extracurricular activities, even for young students, don’t have to be limited to sports or performing arts—there are plenty of STEM-based options too. There are numerous science fairs and engineering design competitions that self-directed students can seek out. For students wanting more guidance or a social aspect, math and science competitions are hosted across the country by various organizations (like Science Olympiad). Think of these competitions as a team geography bee for math and science, complete with practices to prepare. The FIRST Robotics and Junior FIRST Lego® League programs have also grown very popular in recent years.
Tips for Parents Choosing the Right STEM Program
Here are 3 tips about what to look for when choosing the right program.
It’s hands-on and interactive: The best STEM programs require students to interact with concepts with their hands, through creating, designing, and inventing. The most effective programs should be designed around real-world encounters. The best STEM lessons use the engineering design process. Students are able to assess a problem, conduct research, create a solution, create a model, test, evaluate, and redesign.
It encourages collaboration to solve problems: Encouraging critical thinking, problem solving, persistence, collaboration, and communication is key to a great STEM program. It’s no longer enough for students to have a surface-level understanding that enables them to regurgitate basic facts and procedures. Good STEM education means helping students see that these subjects are all connected and enabling them to develop soft skills for the world in which we all live and work.
It integrates and applies grade-level content: The best STEM lesson plans strategically integrate science and math content students are already learning in school within the activities. Rooting curricular content and processes in real-world problems gives students a “need to know” and keeps them engaged in learning.
At SD2, our mission is to empower tomorrow’s STEM leaders today by connecting underrepresented students to the power of STEM, providing them with access to education, mentorship, and the resources they need to lead tomorrow’s workforce. Contact us to learn more about how we are empowering students to explore careers in STEM.