Kids love science! National PTA and Bayer are committed to advancing STEM and ensuring that all individuals are scientifically literate by making STEM education make sense and more accessible and less intimidating—to kids and adults.
So what can parents do to help nurture and maintain their children’s interest in science? America’s Ph.D. scientists offer some tips.
Making Science Make Sense
- Know that interest in science begins early in childhood. The majority of scientists caught the “science bug” while still in elementary school. And if your four-year-old daughter wants a doctor’s kit and your son an erector set, don’t be surprised: biological sciences first appealed to female scientists, while physics and chemistry attracted the males.
- Be aware that girls like science as much as boys. Mounting evidence indicates that girls and boys typically start out with equal interest in science. Unfortunately, behaviors in the classroom may turn girls off to the subject. When they were in elementary school, the scientists surveyed report that girls were encouraged far less than boys in science class— a situation that grew worse in high school.
- Understand adult roles. When it came to igniting their early interest in science, it was scientists’parents who were the biggest influences. And it’s not because their parents were professional scientists, but rather, because the adults encouraged them to pursue their interests and find answers to questions on their own.
- Expose children to role models. Mentors are very important to young professionals just beginning their careers. The same is true for students. Exposing students to male and female professionals helps them see that they can accomplish their goals, too.
- Check out school science programs. National science education reformers advocate science learning at the earliest elementary school levels through an inquiry-based, hands-on method. Students learn by researching, analyzing, experimenting and testing conclusions, just like scientists do. Talk to your children’s teachers. Participate in school science nights. Learn more about hands-on science curricula by visiting the Smithsonian Science Education Center online.
- Nurture their interests outside of school. Science is everywhere, not just in the classroom or laboratory. It’s in the fish tank, in the backyard where caterpillars turn into butterflies and in the kitchen where baking a cake is a chemistry lesson. Doing informal experiments at home is not only fun, but effective in helping to develop long-term skills and interest.
- Use science resources. From the media and internet to science museums and the public library, resources abound. Visiting science museums and zoos had a profound early effect on many scientists. And with the number of outstanding websites devoted to scientific discovery and learning, the internet can play a positive role.
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of healthcare and agriculture. Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS) is Bayer’s award-winning STEM education initiative that seeks to advance science literacy across the United States through hands-on, inquiry-based learning, employee volunteerism, community partnerships and public education.
Bayer and its MSMS partners are dedicated to changing the way science is taught and learned both in and out of the classroom. Bayer is a founding sponsor of National PTA’s STEM + Families initiative.