Kim Insley's Blog: STEM a key to jobs of the future?

11:06 AM, Mar 24, 2009   |    comments
Girls' Science Saturday at St. Kate's
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Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending The College of St. Catherine's Science Saturday with my youngest daughter.

An annual effort from the Center for Women, Science and Technology, and sponsored by General Mills and Medtronic, this particular event focuses on elementary and middle-school aged girls.

The kids participate in science and math workshops presented by St. Kate's students. 

It's designed to be fun for the girls, and kindle flames of interest in math and science for the years ahead. 

My daughter had a blast as she did her experiments in physics and biology, and worked with others to figure out the shortest route around a ski slope.  Had we told her it was math, she might have approached it with a little less enthusiasm -- but in this context, she was using math to do something fun, and that made math fun.

And that's the point.  St. Kate's is not only appealing to students, but to their parents, who also spent their Saturday on campus.  I learned about STEM, as in science, technology, engineering and math, and the state's efforts to incorporate it into more areas of school.

Why?  To keep the door open for science and math jobs in the future. 

Yvonne Ng, Director of the Center for Women, Science and Technology at the College of St. Catherine told us her own story -- about how a passion for finding a better way to build prosthetics for people turned into an engineering career, and a career in education.

We learned how just keeping a toe on the water in math and science throughout a child's K-12 academic career, and then in college, can lead to wonderful things in our lives, and in the job market.

A person who's passion is creating wonderful food is also a person who needs to know something about chemistry.

A person who wants to save the planet might find their life's work through biology.  Or engineering.

The point is to encourage your child... but don't drive your child.  Let them discover their natural talents.  Encourage problem solving skills, and exploration.  Point out the science taking place in your child's every day life.  Seek out clubs and activities where children can work with technology.

You might find the teachers in your school talking about STEM, or you might hear about it in the media.  The Twin Cities has so many resources for parents who want to encourage their children along these lines, you don't have to look far for help.

The Science Museum of Minnesota in Saint Paul, Leonardo's Basement in Minneapolis, The Works Museum in Edina are just a small sampling of organizations in our area sponsoring year round activities for children to explore their inner scientist. 

As parents, we need to encourage our children, as well as their teachers.

And if you're interested in Science Saturday, The College of St. Catherine has made it an annual event.  Check out their website here.

To learn more about efforts in Minnesota to encourage STEM, click on the link here.

(Copyright 2009 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

By Kim Insley, KARE 11 News


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