September 25, 2017
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7 ways to encourage kids to love science and math

Stock photo | BDN
Stock photo | BDN
Presented By Maine School of Science and Mathematics

Presented by Maine School of Science and Mathematics

There are plenty of important, serious reasons to encourage children to learn their science and math lessons, but why take all of the fun out of it?
There are lots of ways to spark a child’s interest in science, technology, engineering or math (the so-called “STEM” subjects) beyond forcing them to memorize multiplication tables and the elements. Here are seven fun, interesting and subtle ways to get children psyched about science and math:
1. Buy the right kinds of games and toys. Too much Minecraft or too many Legos might be driving you crazy, but you might have a budding programmer or engineer on your hands. A quick search on Google or Amazon will lead you to lots of STEM-related games and toys designed to foster interest in science and math.
2. Take a trip to a nearby nature preserve or state or national park. Turn a walk in the woods into a nature lesson by pointing out interesting plants, insects, birds and geological and hydrological features. Many parks have nature centers that illustrate the types of local flora, fauna and geology and explain why it’s important to protect them.
3. Measure and record information. This is a key tenet of the scientific method, but you can keep it simple for youngsters. Track the time for sunrise and sunset, or record the temperature at a certain time every day. What plants do they see each day, and what do they look like? Then ask about changes over time and help them find out why.
4. Watch the right kind of TV. There are lots of documentaries about all kinds of STEM subjects and a few shows devoted to everyday science, like Bill Nye the Science Guy, which is available on Netflix. Watch the shows together and encourage questions.
5. Spend time in the kitchen. Cooking is chemistry, and there are plenty of ways to use recipes to perform fun experiments or make observations. Measuring ingredients requires a set of important math skills.
6. Visit a science museum or science center, where there will be loads of hands-on experiments and demonstrations. For something a little different, look for a nearby Maker Faire, where you can see art, crafts and other products created using 3D printing, robotics and computers.
7. Talk to your children in ways that illustrate the value of science, math, engineering and technology to our everyday lives. You might work together on a quick estimate of the bill at the supermarket before you reach the cashier or discuss how water gets to the house, what makes the lights come on or how the car moves. Always encourage children to ask questions while guiding them to find the answers themselves.
Here’s a bonus technique for making science and math fun. Send the kids to the right kind of summer camp. The Maine School of Science and Mathematics holds summer camp programs to develop children’s interest in science, math and technology. Programs include Robotics, Ballistics, Rocketry Design, Animal Medicine, Mathematical Origami and Real Life CSI.
Adults know that science and technology education is critical to the future of the nation – the whole world, actually – and that careers in technology can be lucrative. But when it comes to encouraging children, don’t spoil the fun.

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