How can we engage children in STEM throughout lockdown and beyond?

Written by Thomas Bradley on 26 June 2020 in Opinion
Opinion

Today we take one of our occasional diversions into children's education. Thomas Bradley talks about the importance of STEM learning.

Since schools remain closed for most children due to the coronavirus pandemic, STEM teachers have been replaced with parents that might not have any training in this area. Despite the pause button being pressed on normality, there’s still a lot that can be done to help children learn these key skills. 

Whether we are using smartphones, taking required medication, making sense of numbers on graphs, or travelling from A to B, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has an impact on all walks of life - something we’re all having to appreciate more right now.

Used later in life by adults who choose to go down one of the four STEM routes as a career path, these academic disciplines are taught to children through school curriculums first.

It has never been more important for children to learn and develop their STEM skills and abilities with skill shortage gaps in the industry being more present than ever. Here's what can be done, how to do it, and a celebration those who’ve gone the extra mile to keep STEM at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Always time to play

Although not many parents may be aware, but their child’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills can be developed through playing with STEM toys, helping strengthen their neurological development.

It has never been more important for children to learn and develop their STEM skills and abilities with skill shortage gaps in the industry being more present than ever.

The likes of toys such as robots and computers can keep children entertained for hours, this being a blessing in the technological era we are living in. At the same time, parents will see that they are happy and learning.

Ways to incorporate STEM and play together can be through building a robot and learning the code to train the digital robot. Don’t want your children sitting at a computer all day? Toy diggers are a great way to teach them more about engineering.

Play time allows children’s creativity to thrive and gives them the freedom to decide how they do so, this has many benefits for their development. This is backed up by a clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, who state: “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of children.”

The value of apprenticeships

In 2017, then-Prime Minister Theresa May outlined in a white paper on industrial strategy, that more needed to be done to make Britain fit for a future beyond Brexit. Much of that focus was based around education, and its need for a technical education system, with an additional £406m being invested in maths, digital and technical education

Since then, learners have been able to avail of a wider STEM curriculum, which affords them the skills needed in our workplaces of the future.


With great opportunities being created through apprenticeships, initiatives that are helping us during lockdown, and education when the schools re-open, the possibilities for children and young people are endless, and ones that could help fill industry gaps for years to come.

Keeping kids on the track to success

From food chains sharing recipes of our most missed menu choices, to the UK government encouraging us to make face masks out of old t-shirts, we’ve heard it all. The world of STEM has been no different, with the likes of Network Rail and Glasgow-based IT consultancy firm, CGI, putting together learning packs for children.

Developed around the concept of trains and engineering, Network Rail’s pack contains tasks and activities for ages between five and 16.

With the majority of their staff classed as critical workers by the government the resources come in very handy for parents who are juggling home-schooling and work. But, not just that, it could well inspire the children of those in the rail industry to follow in their footsteps and climb the STEM career ladder.

To help play their part in easing the pain of lockdown, the CGI launched their ‘STEM from Home’ activities in Glasgow. Using a weekly resource pack aimed at children between the ages of six and 14, the activities focus on robotics, coding, the environment, sport, and healthy living.

Wanting as many children as possible to get into STEM, enough resources were created to last 12 weeks, with more in the pipeline. It could be the difference between children getting into the industry or choosing a different path.

 

About the author

Thomas Bradley is a copywriter for Lookers Ford.

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