A Father’s Guide to STEM
As a kid, I always wanted to be an engineer. I realize that is a rarity but I was always curious about how things worked. I would go to Disney World and – instead of looking at the pirates or the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion (like I was supposed to), I was always trying to figure out how things worked. I was always more interested in the how the ride worked than the magical experience that had been carefully designed for people like me!
It was then that I knew I had to be an engineer.
When I had kids of my own, it was natural that I would want them to be exposed to science and engineering. Although my wife is not an engineer, she always had a love of science so we were on the same page. The hard part is figuring out how to create an organic love of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) without your kids feeling like you are forcing them. I think of it as the educational equivalent of Brussel sprouts – when a parent tells you that you have to eat all of your Brussel sprouts, it is inevitable that you will hate Brussel sprouts. However, if there a lovely plate of Brussel sprouts and you encourage them to try one of them, there is a better chance that they will love them!
So that’s why I wanted to find an awesome way to get my kids to love Brussel sprouts – I mean science and engineering. I want to show them the magic of STEM that exists all around them. When you think about it, STEM really does exist everywhere – from the cars we drive, the food we eat, the toys or apps we play with – and kids’ inquisitive nature is a great conversation starter. By answering their questions, we create an opportunity for lifelong learning. The trick is when and how to start that conversation. For my kids, the way to start it was through toys and expeditions. There are some great toys out there to get kids started on STEM without them even realizing it.
One of my favorites is a product called Snap Circuits. Even though it is targeted at kids 8 and older, I bought Snap Circuits for my daughter when she was 5. The great thing about Snap Circuits is that it is really easy to use (it may sound surprising but the circuits are “snapped” together – talk about a great product name!). The better part is that it includes a detailed book of “experiments” which turn lights on, sound alarms, and make a propeller fly in the air. Both of my kids loved making the propeller fly. They didn’t realize that science was happening.
They just enjoyed playing. It always makes me smile when I walk into Sophia’s room and the two kids Expeditions are another great way to help kids learn about STEM. A day at the Museum of Science is a great opportunity to let kids run around to play and learn. At the beginning, they may not get the point of every exhibit; many exhibits are over-reliant on text to convey their point so if a child can’t read yet, they may miss the point. However, just getting them into that environment, it is inevitable that they will start to love science.
Living in Central Florida, we also live near the Kennedy Space Center. I took Sophia there when she was 5. It was hard to convey that the Space Shuttle Atlantis that was sitting in front of her had been in space or that the moon rock she just touched was from the ACTUAL MOON! After all, in her lifetime, she hasn’t really been old enough to remember the space shuttle program. So she may not have appreciated a real space ship as much as I did, but she did get a certain level of core knowledge and she had a great time with Daddy.
There is so much messaging out there that pulls kids attention in different directions, especially when girls are told to be princesses and boys are taught to be pirates. But as parents, we do have a certain level of control over that message. At a certain age, it may not be cool to be an engineer so we have to start young. The good news is that there is an amazing world of wonder all around us. We just have to help tell the story.
Now, who’s up for some Brussel sprouts?
An now the fun stuff.. Meet TROBO!
TROBO Robot and Storystelling App
Buy your own TROBO or TROBO Curie now on Amazon
TROBO is a huggable talking plush robot & interactive storytelling app that excites kids about science (STEM) in the world around them.
TROBO’s Coloring & Activity Book
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- Sometimes You Have to Say Yes
- Finding a Princess in Every Girl
- Screen Time and Motivating Boys
- Tips on Encourage Sibling Bonding
- Using Play to Parent through Stress
Jeremy Scheinberg is a father, husband and co-creator of TROBO the Storytelling Robot, a talking plush toy that helps kids 2-7 learn about the science and engineering all around them through personalized, interactive stories. TROBO is now available at MyTrobo.com . Connect with him onTwitter Facebook Instagram Pinterest Google+
UPDATE! Thank you again for all of your support for our kickstarter campaign! Check out TROBO on Shark Tank –Friday, April 8th at 9PM Eastern/Pacific, 8PM Central on ABC. We’ll be on Twitter and Facebook that night, so follow us and like us to join the conversation #SharkTank.