Kids who ‘hate math’ or ‘don’t like science’ usually have a common emotional backing of their aversion: fear. Science class can make children feel both dumb and frustrated, especially when faced with a topic or activity that is challenging. This can instill a sense of anxiety. Some students don’t even realize that they’re scared or don’t want to admit it, so they write STEM off as boring. When you ask these same students about considering a STEM career later in life, “I’m not good at science” is a common response.
This is far from the truth. Science is a natural process, and it’s something we can all be good at. As parents and teachers, we must help our youth see that STEM, even when complex, doesn’t have to be difficult or dry. In fact, it can be the opposite, both fun and fulfilling.
Blowing soap bubbles, watching fancy-looking clouds, taking toys apart—these are things that children love. They also like to play with glow in the dark sticks, taking care of a pet, and mixing up slime and mud-pies. Intuitively, they take part in physical, chemical, and engineering experiments. Not only do children like these kinds of activities, but they’re also good at them.
But something happens along the way. According to research, 2 out of 5 adults hate math, and fifty percent of students don’t go into science-related fields because it’s too hard. But studies also show another side to the equation—many students actually like science, just not science class.
This was the findings of a recent report presented by the AmGen Foundation. While 81% of participants in AmGen’s study said that they like science, only 33% enjoyed going to science class. The reason for the disconnect: many teachers are still using (boring) textbooks and (difficult) worksheets to teach science instead of hands-on, inquiry-based opportunities. Well-meaningly, educators, and parents are leading children away from the very subject they want to draw them toward.
Although the results of the studies mentioned above aren’t all positive, there is good news. The fact that 8 out of 10 students actually like science means there is hope! Educators and parents have the ability to encourage children’s interest in many different areas of science. We can do this by linking what kids see and do with scientific basics behind these experiences. This will stimulate natural curiosity and remove the fear of science in children. It will also lead more students to choose STEM careers
Starting early is essential. Children are never ‘too young’ to enjoy science or take part in science-based activities on a daily basis. Some easy options include:ShoppingCooking/bakingLearning to play a musical instrumentTaking care of a plant, garden, or petMaking DIY craftsFixing broken toys
One of the best ways to eliminate the fear of science is through toys and games that promote STEM through creative and engaging gameplay.
For children who like to READ, consider: STEM books on Amazon.
Great examples include Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky, and Science in Seconds for Kids: Over 100 Experiments You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less by Jean Potter.
For those who like to WORK WITH THEIR HANDS, consider:Straw Constructor STEM Building ToysGlow in the Dark Magna-TilesPlay 22 Building Toys for KidsCubicfun 3D Steam Ship PuzzleMarble Run Sets
All of the toys listed above can be found on Amazon and encourage kinesthetic learning. The straw connector kit inspires creativity, promotes hand-eye coordination and helps children learn their colors while teaching them to build.
The Play 22 set has enough pieces for children to create robots, cars, and machines, while the 3D puzzle puts a twist on puzzle play in the form of a 3D steam ship. The marble run sets are some of the coolest of all because after the children build the set, they can watch the marbles light up as they glide through their creation.
For your ARTIST at heart, try:Paint and Flower Growing KitCircuit Cubes Smart Art
The flower growing kit encourages your child to ‘get their hands dirty’ while also teaching them responsibility (growing flowers takes work.) ‘Artsy’ children will love the painting and decorating part as well. Circuit Cubes Smart Art fuses robotics, Legos, and drawing together to make cool designs that your child will rave about.
For GAME LOVERS, look into:
The Mind Your Numbers Math Game
Thinking Putty Puzzle
Both of these games take logical thinking to the next level while making math and numbers fun.
Regardless of what toys or activities you choose, just remember that the way to get rid of fear is to show that there is nothing to be afraid of! Make science interactive and fun, as it should be.
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