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Preparing Children & Students for Future Careers in STEAM - A Guide for Parents and Educators

A career in STEAM can be most rewarding when the pursuant has the necessary preemptive knowledge needed to discern their specific area of interest in STEAM and is aware of the optimal degree program and internships to pursue to ensure they possess the required knowledge and practical skills to be successful in their career field. InTouch Think STEAM Careers website is a comprehensive page where educators, parents, and students can find resources and helpful tips to guide them on their STEAM academic and career journeys. Moreover, the InTouch Think STEAM Careers podcast is an informational resource and news outlet on all things STEAM and is led by professionals and innovators currently working in STEAM who are eager to share the latest news updates on policies, DEI initiatives, and their overall experiences as a professional in STEAM.

For example, there has been a recent development in which the U.S. is considering further restrictions on exports of U.S. AL chips to China and other U.S. competitors to prevent them from outcompeting the United States, (1) LinkedIn. The increased involvement of the U.S. in AI and chips accentuates the significance of this field for students interested in pursuing STEAM degrees and careers. As the world continues to advance particularly in the areas of technology and AI integration there will be continued growth in those professional sectors and the need for additional IT support within non-IT based service or product provider companies will increase. For instance, with the emergence of AI and increased automation in everyday industry imaginable, there is a growing need for AI researchers and scientists, lawyers with expertise in foreign and domestic AI regulative policies, machine learning engineers, data analysts and scientists, AI Engineers, Robotic Engineers, AI Ethicists, Language Processing Engineers, and AI Consultants just to name a few. The aforementioned careers all play a crucial role in shaping the future. Here are some key points to consider when preparing children and students for an academic future and career in STEAM:

Encourage a strong foundation in STEAM subjects: Emphasize the importance of mathematics, physics, computer science, and other relevant disciplines. Encourage children to develop problem-solving and critical thinking abilities essential for STEAM careers such as judgement formation.

Encourage and help them foster a love for learning and curiosity: Parents can encourage a growth mindset and a passion for learning by helping children develop a sense of curiosity by exposing them to various STEAM-related activities, experiments, and projects at home. Educators can encourage a growth mindset by encouraging their students to ask questions, seek answers, and explore their interests.

Be bold and provide them with activities that expose them to hands-on experiences: Engage children in hands-on STEAM activities, such as building models, conducting experiments, or coding projects. This allows them to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations and develop practical skills.

Encourage participation in STEAM competitions like the Vex Robotics or coding and clubs: Encourage children to join STEAM clubs, robotics teams, coding clubs, or participate in science fairs and competitions. These activities will provide them with teamwork, problem-solving, and innovation opportunities while building their confidence and networking skills. These skills will be critical in positioning them for high-paying jobs and success in 21st-century STEAM-oriented careers, even when they do not yet have STEAM degrees.

Encourage practical exploration in coding and computer science: As we live and evolve deeper into the digital age, coding and computer science skills are highly valuable. Encourage children to learn coding languages, explore programming concepts, and understand the basics of computer science. Numerous online resources, coding platforms, and coding courses are specifically designed for children and students. Many colleges are offering summer STEAM camps for children as well and I highly encourage all parents to enroll their child in STEAM camp if your local college or university offers such a program.

Teachers and parents need to stay updated on emerging technologies: It is imperative that parents and educators remain informed about the latest advancements and emerging technologies in STEAM fields. This knowledge will help them guide their children and students toward relevant career opportunities in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, data science, and cybersecurity, which are all gaining prominence and offer promising career paths.

Encourage collaborative and interdisciplinary learning: Many future STEAM jobs require collaboration and combining skills from multiple disciplines. Encourage children to explore various fields and develop a multidisciplinary mindset. For example, blending computer science with biology can lead to careers in bioinformatics or computational biology.

Promote curiosity, problem-solving, and creativity: Children lose their creative edge as they age due to various societal factors. STEAM professionals must be innovative and creative problem solvers. Encourage children to think critically, develop unique solutions, and approach problems from different angles. Foster their creativity by providing opportunities for art, design, and hands-on projects alongside their STEAM pursuits.

Teach communication and collaboration skills: Outside of technical expertise, the development of communication and collaboration skills is a major component to every professional and student operating in STEAM. Encourage children to work in teams, present their ideas, and articulate their thoughts clearly. Provide opportunities for public speaking, writing, and teamwork to enhance these skills.

Foster resilience, adaptability, and dynamic skills: The STEAM landscape constantly evolves, and adaptability is vital. Teach children to embrace change, learn from failures, and to be resilient in facing challenges. Also, encourage them to keep up with new technology and research trends to instill a lifelong learning mindset.

Encourage industrialization entrepreneurship: Every child will not want to be an entrepreneur, however, for children that do have such desires should be encouraged to explore and follow them. One way to encourage entrepreneurship amongst the youth is to enroll them in internships or sign them up for workshops that speak to their specific STEAM field of interest. Over the years, I have observed that encouraging children and students to be industrious and strive to be entrepreneurs can foster a mindset of innovation, creativity, and self-reliance.

As the world continues to advance and we move into a new industrial age filled with robotics, AI, and STEAM automations let us remember that it is everyone’s responsibility, primarily educators, parents, as well as STEAM professionals and students to encourage the next STEAM workforce generation. By focusing on the critical skills needed to succeed in STEAM by implementing the aforementioned recommendations we can create an environment both in school and at home that encourages students of all ages, genders, and ethnicities to pursue a career in STEAM.

Authored by Dr. Ayo Olufade, Ph.D.

Think STEM Careers! You Have the Opportunity to Create the Future and the Privilege of Deciding What’s in It! ~ Dr. Ayo Olufade, PhD

Excel in Learning. Excel in Life.

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