STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is part of our everyday lives. Here at Word Monster, we love all things STEM. We want to support the growing movement to promote STEM-based learning worldwide allowing children to explore an interest in STEM and expand their skill set.
STEM-based learning puts children at the core of their experience, making them active learners instead of passive listeners. But how? As monsters who know all about the power of ‘laugh energy’, we called on our fellow monsters over at Monsters Inc. to help us breakdown how we can get children more excited about STEM.
Emphasise the importance of STEM — ‘We scare because we care’
Many of the growing issues across the world need contributions from brilliant scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians to find solutions. Take Mike and Sulley for example. Without them and their fellow
‘scarers’ ‘jokesters’, how would any monster in the city of Monstropolis have energy?
Whether a child pursues a STEM-based career or gains a background in STEM-related skills, those experiences and perspectives can stimulate change, helping them build a better future. It’s not about becoming the next Elon Musk, but about developing our human, or monster, potential to tackle significant global challenges.
Recognise STEM role models — ‘I’m watching you, Wazowski. Always watching’
Children learn through observation and imitation, so having role models that children can look up to can help children become excited about STEM. Anyone can be a role model in a child’s life whether it be a parent, friend, teacher or monster.
Next time you’re reading a book or watching a show featuring characters with STEM-based careers, such as doctors, mechanics, computer engineers, or *cough* medical writers *cough*, you can talk to children about those characters and why their roles are important. Maybe you have family or friends with similar jobs or hobbies that can help your child learn more about STEM and picture themselves in a STEM-related role.
Sulley taught us a great lesson of how innovation occurs when people approach old problems from a new angle by changing ‘scare energy’ to ‘laugh energy’. So, let’s promote STEM role models to our children. Randall, that doesn’t include you…
Explore different areas of STEM — ‘Report to MIFT’
The fascinating thing about STEM is that there are so many different areas to explore. From
‘scarers’ ‘jokesters’ harvesting children’s screams laughter to make energy to the mechanics and engineers working in the Monsters Incorporated Facilities Team — Monsters Inc. relies on STEM.
Just as Monsters Inc. has its different departments, so does STEM. And the great news is, you can explore these different areas in your day-to-day life. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, most of us use STEM-based activities every day and we can use this to our advantage to effectively teach STEM to children.
Let’s take baking for example. Baking is a science. As they say, never trust a chemist who cannot cook… The ability to follow a method, accurately measure liquids and powders and discuss the possible chemical reactions that could be occurring are all important STEM-based skills. This is just one example, but you will find most of your daily activities relate to STEM in some way.
Promote diversity in STEM — ‘Do you hear that? It’s the winds of change’
In Monsters Inc. there are many different monsters, they are a diverse group for sure. Minority groups are underrepresented in STEM, but we can change that. Let’s avoid limiting children to gender stereotypes.
Initiatives have been developed to bring the most diverse voices to STEM. These include Girls Who Code, Coding Black Females, Women at NASA and the Brown STEM Girl Foundation. All children should be able to explore STEM. If we refrain from setting boundaries, children will understand and accept the vast possibilities their futures hold.
In the words of Mr Waternoose, ‘Kids these days. They just don’t get scared like they used to.’ — and that’s a good thing!
Make STEM fun — ‘It’s laughter we’re after’
Just as our fellow monsters at Monsters Inc. learned, the future is ‘laugh energy’. STEM is fun! Why not try your very own science experiment at home.
Now this is a messy one so you may want to take it outside but let me tell you how you can make your very own monster’s toothpaste! In an empty 500 mL bottle, add ½ a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, 3 tbsp warm water, 1 tbsp washing up liquid, 1 tbsp active dry yeast and a dash of food colouring and watch the foamy magic happen!
And ‘mini monsters’ please do ask your parents’ permission before trying this at home.
(No monsters were harmed in the making of this blog post)
Kindercare. 5 ways to get kids excited about STEM learning. Available at: https://www.kindercare.com/content-hub/articles/2019/april/5-ways-get-kids-excited-stem. [Accessed November 2022].
Hackernoon. 5 ways to get kids interested in STEM. Available at: https://hackernoon.com/5-ways-to-get-kids-interested-in-stem. [Accessed November 2022].
Pacey. The importance of STEM learning. Available at: https://www.pacey.org.uk/news-and-views/pacey-blog/2019/march-2019/the-importance-of-stem-learning/. [Accessed November 2022].
Stemlabs. 5 ways STEM can be used in everyday life. Available at: https://www.stemlabs.in/blogs/5-ways-stem-can-be-used-in-everyday-life/. [Accessed November 2022].
Kidpillar. What is STEM education and why is it important for kids. Available at: https://kidpillar.com/what-is-stem-education-and-why-is-it-important-for-kids/. [Accessed November 2022].
Noble Explorers. The importance of STEM education. Available at: https://nobelexplorers.com/the-importance-of-stem-education/. [Accessed November 2022].
Lifewire. What is STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)? Available at: https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-stem-4150175. [Accessed November 2022].
Kiwanis. The importance of role models for children. Available at: https://www.kiwanis.org/clubs/join/importance-of-role-models-for-children. [Accessed November 2022].
TOR.COM. Life lessons from Monsters Inc. Available at: https://www.tor.com/2021/11/05/life-lessons-from-monsters-inc/. [Accessed November 2022].