Solving Bigger Problems, Empowering Kids to use STEM To Change The World!

By: Devorah Heitner, Raising Digital Natives

We are handing our kids some big challenges. And they know it...check out these smart kids suing adults over climate change! In the meantime, many parents and educators are very excited about the opportunities in STEM and STEAM for our kids. How can we get our kids excited about creating, experimenting and tinkering with materials, creating applications and doing experiments. 

1) Start from their interests. Not every kid wants to code or build robots Are they curious about nature when you go hiking or just walk to school? Is there an invasive species in your local community causing problems in the ecosystem. Could they do an awareness campaign about why people shouldn't please pets into the environment? Or could they protect beaches during turtle migration? What about sports? Are there a way to redesign sports equipment that reduces the likelihood of injury? Or what if they love fashion and make-up? Is there a research project around makeup they could perform? 

2) Get inspired by kid inventors like Trisha Prabhu, who invented an app to prevent cyber-bullying and Super Awesome Sylvia who hosts a science and maker show on YouTube or Kenneth Shinozuka who invented a product to keep Alzheimers patients safer. 

3) Solve Bigger Problems: All the small problems have been solved. Spot Hero will find you a parking spot and Grub Hub will bring lovely Thai food to your door. But there are lots of other problems in our schools, communities, Help kids identify problems get curious about problems—may it is a lack of bike lanes or a dangerous crossing in your town. Maybe lead poisoning from chipped paint or in local water supplies. Rather than trying to shield kids from problems, have them do research. 

Ultimately we are empowering Kids to use STEM To Change The World by helping them get curious about problems and to get creative about solving them!

About the Author: Devorah Heitner, Ph.D., is the author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World. She is also the founder of Raising Digital Natives, which helps parents, schools, and kids grow a culture of positive digital citizenship. Want to learn more? Take the How Screenwise Are You quiz.