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A Parent’s Guide to Getting Kids Excited About STEM

A Parent’s Guide to Getting Kids Excited About STEM

As a parent, you want your kids to get excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). You know that if they take an early interest in these subjects, it will positively affect the rest of their lives.

Kids who grow up interested in STEM tend to achieve more than those who do not. So how do you get your kids excited about STEM when you have to compete with phones, video games, and other distractions?

In this guide, I’ll lay out a step-by-step plan to help introduce STEM to your kids and spark an inferno of excitement in their hearts that could lead to lifelong learning, exploration, and success.

The steps in this article will help you get your kids excited about STEM from early childhood and beyond.

Your child’s attention and interest are almost guaranteed when you start early and leverage simple psychology-backed approaches.

Throughout this article, we’ll show you how to make STEM the only thing your kids want to talk about!

Have you ever asked someone how they got interested in something, and they responded, “I don’t know; I’ve done it for as long as I can remember.”

The process of developing habits and routines takes time. It starts from an early age. One of the best ways to ensure your child will be interested in STEM is to present them with toys to kickstart the habit as early as possible.

Early childhood toys are designed for child development, and you don’t have to look far to find STEM-friendly options.

The key is to find toys that do more than combine bright colors with a jaunty tune. You want toys with basic science, technology, engineering, and math concepts.

A quick Google search reveals many more STEM-friendly toys.

At this stage, what’s important is that your child puts hands on unique toys that allow them to learn about how the world works and explore new ideas.

As children grow, they naturally gravitate toward whatever makes them feel most comfortable. If they feel comfortable with bright colors and sounds, they might be more artistically or musically inclined. 

On the other hand, if they’re comfortable building towers or observing how water turns a wheel, they might be interested in engineering, technology, or the sciences.

Check out this article for a comprehensive list of fantastic STEM toys.

Step 2: Choose STEM-Friendly Home Projects When Kids Get Bored

When kids spend time at home, even if only on the weekends or evenings, they’re likely to get bored from time to time. Paw Patrol starts to lose its spark after the 10,000th time you’ve seen it.

Kids will play with toys for a while, but at some point, they want to do more and explore new ideas. Now is your chance to break out exciting projects you can do along with your children.

A simple STEM project is model-building. You could build model cars, airplanes, skyscrapers, or even something like the Millennium Falcon. Projects don’t need to be incredible feats of engineering. Keep it simple. 

The sciences are particularly popular with kids, and projects like a toy frog dissection lab or making a battery from fruit can go a long way toward adding a ‘wow’ factor.

For a more complex project, consider ordering the parts to build your own desktop computer from scratch.

Building a PC at home isn’t hard.

Most of the process is plug-n-play. You order the parts and then follow guides to figure out where they plug into the computer.

Use online video guides to understand where every piece goes before you start, and you’ll have a fun weekend project for a rainy day.

Building a PC isn’t just fun for kids. Many adults love the process so much that they’ve built entire careers doing it, so don’t be surprised if you enjoy this activity as much as they do.

This is a great way to teach kids that they can leverage engineering and technology to unlock limitless possibilities.

Step 3: Subtly Mention STEM in Conversations

A third way to get kids involved leverages social psychology, and it’s more subtle than the other approaches.

Kids are perceptive.

Talk about going to the movies; suddenly, they want to see a movie. Mention ice cream; they demand Rocky Road.

Influence begins with everyday communication and isn’t limited to conversations you have with your child.

If your kid overhears you talking with a partner, friend, co-worker, or another person about something that interests you, they are likely to pick up on that.

So just mention STEM topics in regular conversations.

For example, you could bring up a new science museum that opened recently in a nearby town or mention a nature park you visited as a kid and how fun it was.

Just share the memory. No need to be pushy.

Once your kids learn about the exciting things they’re missing out on, they’ll want to know more.

Here are several kid-friendly topics you could mention in passing to help spark your child’s interest:

Always Popular Topics to Bring Up

Science Topics

  • Science Museums
  • Photos from James Webb Telescope
  • Black holes, new stars, new habitable planets
  • Weather + how it works

Technology Topics

  • The latest gaming system specs
  • Ethical hacking
  • TikTok, Instagram + new social platforms
  • Video of a kid doing something unique with tech

Engineering Topics

  • Construction toys
  • Modern marvels of construction
  • Extreme Sandbox
  • Military combat engineers

Math Topics

  • How to use math to solve a Rubik’s cube
  • Extreme math challenges that nobody can beat
  • Math riddles
  • How people like John Nash think about math

Keep in mind, the more relevant the topic is for your child, the more interested they’ll be. If you talk about the weather without pointing out something interesting about it, your kids probably won’t care.

Likewise, if you mention how a child similar in age to your child built a PC and show them the video on YouTube, that’ll pique their interest to know more.

Whatever you do, don’t make a big deal about it.

Subtlety is key.

These subjects should come up regularly and naturally in conversations to show your interest in them.

Step 4: Enroll Your Child in a Dedicated STEM Program with Peer Support

If you’ve followed the steps so far, your child is probably excited and curious about one or more STEM areas.

Now it’s time to give them a dedicated path to explore and learn with peers because…learning with parents is great but not as much fun as learning with friends!

To keep your child’s interest fully focused on these subjects, you need to immerse them in an environment where they can find a sense of independence while building valuable social skills.

When you enroll your child in a structured STEM program, like the one iCode School offers, they’ll find themselves in an environment built to foster their interests.

Students who attend iCode School enjoy instructor-led classes, and they get their hands on STEM projects in a group setting. 

What really sets this approach apart is that kids have a chance to learn from other students and to teach other students too. This collaborative learning promotes faster development and helps build confidence and self-esteem.

So if you really want to spark a burning interest in STEM, enroll your child in a proven program that offers loads of support and networking opportunities and that teaches across multiple modalities for all learning styles.

Step 5: Plan Fun and Exciting Activities With a Focus on STEM

Once you enroll your child in a dedicated STEM program and get them around an excited peer group, you’ve laid the foundations for lifelong learning.

Suddenly, STEM is the only thing on their minds.

Even if they usually spend their days watching television or playing video games, they’ll want to get out of the house and get their hands dirty.

To make the most of their newfound excitement, you should plan activities to keep their enthusiasm growing.

It’s not easy to come up with spur-of-the-moment ideas (especially activities that don’t cost an arm and a leg), so we’ve outlined a few affordable adventures to help get you started.

Here are some activities you can do with kids to keep them interested:

Always Popular STEM Activities for Kids

  • Science museums – Discover many experiments
  • Telescope viewing – Explore the cosmos
  • The zoo – Learn about animal biology and habitats
  • Aeronautical museum – Learn about aeronautical engineering
  • The Aquarium – Learn about sea creature biology
  • Tiny Towns – Explore urban development & build with blocks
  • Nature Centers – Explore agriculture & conservation topics
  • Caves – Explore topics in geology and Earth science

From science museums to caves, zoos, and nature centers, most offer inexpensive daytime fun in an environment ripe for learning.

Prices for these activities range from around $5 to $35.

If you’re strapped for cash, just head out to free parks, local trails, or even your backyard.

The brilliance of exploration and discovery is that you are only limited by your imagination.

It’s free to see the stars at night and to explain the constellations. Likewise, there’s no charge to watch ants moving in a line as they gather food for their colony.

Step 6: Leverage STEM-Themed Video Games to Get Older Children Involved

Video games have become highly engaging thanks to advances in modern technology.

While many parents think video games are a net negative, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Instead of fighting against technology, why not leverage it to help your child grow and learn?

Advances in graphics, audio, and immersive experiences have reached levels that make distinguishing between the real world and fantasy difficult.

Since video game technology shows no signs of slowing, parents should turn to STEM-friendly games to make the most of it.

Here are five STEM-friendly video games you might consider:

STEM-Friendly Video Games

1. Minecraft: In this game, kids will leverage the environment around them to build entire worlds from scratch

2. LEGO Builder’s Journey – Players follow a narrative storyline and must use LEGO blocks to build unconventional solutions.

3. Super Mario Maker 2 – Similar to the games above, SMM2 allows players to build the world around them to help Mario move through the storyline.

4. Leapfrog Leapster – Younger children will enjoy this standalone game that grows with them from pre-k through fourth grade.

Whether your child is just learning their ABCs or they’re already in school and have played games for years, it’s never too late (or too early) to get them interested in games that can fuel their interest in a brighter tomorrow.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Every step in this article can help ignite an inferno of excitement in your child for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

However, the best way to get your kid involved in STEM is by bringing them into an immersive environment where their peers are also actively engaged in these subjects.

That’s where iCode School comes in.

iCode School offers instructor-led, campus-based STEM programs for all proficiency levels.

Our courses help kids familiarize themselves with the latest technology in a structured environment while getting hands-on experience.

Importantly, when you enroll your child in an iCode School program, they will learn alongside other kids and benefit from a positively-structured peer group.

If you’d like to explore how iCode School can provide a more profound and engaging experience for your child’s learning, click here to learn about our immersive STEM programs.

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