How to help young people find STEM in our everyday world

Author: Inez Cornell
Date: Apr 26, 2019

W8 - Telescope

There’s never been a more important time to get young people interested in STEM subjects. The modern climate is changing rapidly, presenting more and more issues that require critical thinking to solve - but we simply don’t have the manpower required to tackle it.

Studies show that not enough graduates are going on to work in maths, science and technology roles. To try and turn this around, it’s crucial that we go beyond the classroom and show students that STEM is everywhere we look.

Here are our top tips for finding those real world STEM examples right here in the world around us.

Make your subject relatable

In order to get students to really engage with STEM, they need to feel like what they’re doing has a purpose. Empathy is important here; you must choose a subject matter that will make students feel something, like climate change or poverty. It also needs to be something real, as that’s what’s going to show them that they can make a difference.

Look locally

We’ve talked about the importance of making it relatable - and there’s no better way to do that than to get out there in your local community. Approach the businesses and organisations in your area and see if they’re open to working with youngsters; they may even have internships or work experience placements available, which is a great opportunity for youngsters to explore STEM in a real life working environment.

Explore the world

All around the world there are large-scale problems just waiting to picked apart by keen learners - think about overcrowding or transportation issues in big cities, for example. Not sure where to look? Just spin a globe and see where you land, then get researching that country and how you might tackle one of its big issues.

Use critical thinking

‘Thinking outside the box’ is a term that’s thrown around quite a lot, but it’s a necessary part of being involved with a STEM subject. Encourage young people to think critically about everything they do, particularly in the classroom, and let them know there are no right or wrong answers.

Go online

The internet is jam packed with all kinds of helpful resources - and we’ve got access to all of it, so we should use them to our advantage! App stores are a great place to start. There are hundreds you can download straight to your mobile, with plenty of games and puzzles designed to help people get their heads around STEM subjects. Google is perfect for inspiration, too; a quick search and you’ll have more real world problems than you know what to do with.

Plan for the future

It’s fine looking at the here and now, but to make an impact on the future that’s exactly where we need to focus our STEM thinking - on future problems. The two topics we’d recommend focusing on are the environment and business.

Budding entrepreneurs should look at transferable skills they might need for future business ventures to make them successful, while others might consider how to address climate change or overpopulation. After all, saving the planet is something that everyone can get behind.   

A hands-on approach is essential for developing the STEM employees of the future. Use real world examples to push their critical thinking skills, and they’ll start to truly engage with the subject - and hopefully incorporate it into their future.

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