It’s well known that STEM-based education provides students with a variety of valuable skills that can prepare them for higher learning and successful careers. These include not just science, technology, engineering, and math abilities, but also capabilities in critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, sound decision-making, and much more. Yet not all students are able to take full advantage of what STEM programming has to offer. Here’s who faces additional barriers and how to overcome them.
Who Is Being Excluded From STEM Education and Resources?
You may be surprised at how many demographics of children face tangible or invisible barriers to learning in math, science, technology, and engineering. Here are some examples, although this list is certainly not exhaustive:
Students from low-income families for whom high-speed internet access, computers, and other forms of technology needed for STEM learning may be unaffordable
Students attending schools in underinvested communities that may not have the funds to offer high-quality programming or resources in STEM subjects
BIPOC students who may be disadvantaged in one or more of the above areas or who have been excluded or discouraged from STEM for reasons directly or indirectly related to their race
Students with physical or learning disabilities
Female students, either as the result of direct or indirect gender bias or because they lack female role models in STEM spaces
Students who are generally unaware of the value of STEM education, its relevance to the success of their lives and careers, or the resources available to them
The list of students who are being excluded from STEM learning in grade school is a long one, which highlights the need for better inclusion and accessibility. Ultimately, a lack of training in science, math, technology, and engineering can negatively impact childrens’ entire futures. Students who aren’t engaged in science and math subjects won’t major in them in college, meaning they won’t be able to pursue lucrative and worthwhile careers in these areas. This can widen salary and wealth gaps when students become adults.
How To Promote STEM Learning in Ways That Include All Students
Introduce students to STEM programming where they are—in the classroom. Considering how many students are missing out on STEM camps and extracurricular activities, it’s wise to pique and encourage kids’ interest while they’re in the classroom. Teachers can offer science-related programming in ways that support students of all genders, cultures, abilities, and socioeconomic strata. Show them that science is for everyone—and that everyone has unique ways of “nerding out.”
Research and incorporate appropriate learning tools for students with disabilities. There are many effective ways to facilitate a high-quality learning experience for students with physical and learning disabilities. Teachers and caregivers should consult with parents, therapists, and service providers to decide which supports may work best for each individual child. You can get started with this table of resource types.
Begin exposing children to STEM learning at an early age. Studies show that even infants have investigative abilities, and young children are highly capable of learning STEM concepts in age-appropriate ways. Parents can introduce babies and toddlers to puzzles and problem-solving activities as part of their play and continue this exposure through pre-school, kindergarten, and beyond.
Show students how STEM is relevant in their lives outside of school. There are a variety of ways to engage students in STEM topics and help them make connections between what they’re learning in school and their lives outside of it. Examples include inviting adults in related careers to talk about their professions in class, choosing high-quality science-oriented field trips, holding contests, and even incorporating some of the computer games children play at home.
Make use of free educational resources. STEM programming doesn’t have to be expensive. Research accessible educational materials and opportunities in your area; ask students’ parents for help. You never know what beneficial connections or tools they may have. Don’t forget to check out your local library; some corporations also sponsor STEM learning as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. You can get started with these resources.
Help Kids Learn To Code With BeamUp
High-quality education, healthcare, and other support systems are extremely important for helping young people prepare for a bright future. BeamUp offers programming to help underinvested youth succeed in every aspect of life. Our goal is to provide opportunities for youth and young adults of lower socioeconomic status to equip themselves with the tools needed to lift themselves out of poverty and violence.
We have partnered with Scrimba to provide youth who are interested in becoming developers or coders with the ability to learn coding on the Scrimba platform for free. Scrimba makes it simple for kids to learn and test their skill in the Chrome browser without the need for a formal classroom setting or expensive hardware or software. Learners who are motivated to pursue a career in web development can contact BeamUp to get started. To support accountability, monthly and quarterly goals will be established for each participant.
Completing our program with Scrimba gives learners access to BeamUp support for further education, career exploration, career counseling and mentorship, and apprenticeships or internships as well as job opportunities.
At the core of BeamUp is access to quality education about a healthy lifestyle, professional education, plant-based whole foods, making climate-friendly choices, and mindfulness. Help us support and teach kids by shopping for swag or donating today!