I’m a big fan of encouraging kids into STEM subjects, especially girls as the industry is majorly lacking in women. It’s an area that is so varied there’s something for every child to find exciting whilst also learning valuable skills and getting those little brains working.
All ages can get involved, you don’t need to wait until they do these subjects later on at school. Read on to find out how you can encourage your kids into STEM and what resources and activities you can do at home.
What is STEM?
If you’re not quite sure what STEM is, it’s basically anything that focuses on the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Why should we encourage girls into STEM?
All kids should get into STEM, they’re not just subjects that we should be encouraging our daughters to develop an interest in. However, the stats of girls getting into careers in these areas is worrying which is why I keep mentioning encouraging girls.
The proportion of women working in Core STEM occupations in the UK was just 21% in 2016 (as reported by Wise).
- 18% of ICT professionals are women
- 8% of Engineering Professionals are women
- 41% of Science Professionals are women
I’m all about Girl Power and these stats need to be much higher!
So, whether you have sons or daughters, here are some ways you can encourage them into STEM subjects. It’s so much fun they don’t even need to know it’s educational…
Disclosure: Some (not all) links below are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. However, I have only linked to products and resources which we’ve tried and recommend ourselves.
There are so many science experiments you can do at home, and it’s a really fun way to spend time together.
We have a science kit as well as a book of 365 Science Activities and they both include loads of things you can do with ingredients that you can easily find around the house.
Here’s a couple of science kits similar to ours:
We also reviewed Whizz Pop Bang last year which is a great science magazine for kids full of activities, experiments and facts that any little scientist will enjoy looking through.
There are lots of places you can take kids to get involved in science. We’ve been to Rainbow Science and Vivacious Volcanoes workshops at the Science Zone in Bournemouth which were really good fun – definitely worth a look if there’s something similar near you. We’re even going back for Little H’s birthday party this year.
British Science Week is 9th-18th March so expect to see lots going on that week – you can download their activity packs here.
Technology is obviously big with kids these days already, with most using a tablet regularly. A popular subject at the moment is coding and it’s not as scary as it sounds if you don’t have any knowledge of coding or programming yourself.
We attended Bournemouth Uni’s BFX Family Weekend last year and it was amazing. A few hours packed with coding robots, playing computer games, doing stop-start animation and much more. If you’re nearby I definitely recommend keeping your eyes peeled for the 2018 dates.
Our afternoon at BFX introduced us to Scratch and we’ve been playing around with it at home. It’s completely free to use, all you need is a PC or Laptop. It’s really good fun – you can create your own little sprites (characters) and learn how to move them around using code. There are also various books available if you want extra help.
For older kids, especially Minecraft and Roblox fans, check out Code Kingdoms. You do have to pay a small monthly fee but it’s really worth the money. We did the free trial but it was a little bit advanced for Little H at the moment however, we will be going back once she has her head around Scratch coding.
I’ve also just heard about Code Club who run free coding clubs for 9-13-year-olds around the UK. Wondering if I could sneak in myself as Little H is too young!
Away from coding, you could try some stop-start animation. We bought the Stikbot Zamination Studio for Christmas and have had so much fun making our own little movies. You just download a free app onto your smartphone or tablet and away you go.
Engineering can be a bit of hard one to think of activities to get kids involved with but there’s lots you can do.
Little H’s school had an engineering day where they made bridges out of various materials such as straws, pipe cleaners, plastic cups and building blocks. The parents went in as well and we had great fun trying to build bridges that didn’t collapse. LEGO is brilliant for anything like this but you can build a bridge or structure out of any household objects.
Goldieblox toys are fantastic for making engineering into a game. We have the Spinning Machine but there’s a whole range available. Each set comes with a story to give some context as to what you are trying to build. You follow the story and build as you go. It definitely gets their brains working to try and work out the best way to solve the problem.
I think maths is one of the easier subjects to learn at home as there are so many activities and games you can play involving numbers, from counting blocks and pretend money to playing bingo. You can incorporate maths into almost any part of your child’s day.
There are also so many learning resources and games you can buy to help your child with their numeracy skills.
Another great maths game is NumBugz which we reviewed last year and can be taken with you wherever you go.
For kids that like using the computer or tablets (pretty much all kids!) there are lots of great maths apps that turn numbers in games. We were given a login to Mathletics from school and are also currently taking a look at Smartick (review coming soon!)
I hope these ideas have given you some help with things you can do with your kids to get them interested in STEM subjects. If you have any thoughts or other suggestions for encouraging kids into STEM please feel free to add them to the comments section below.