Science, technology, engineering, and math are all around us! Nearly everywhere we look, we can find examples of how STEM explains, enables, and improves our lives.
So how can you ignite your daughter‘s interest in STEM—and help her see that a future in STEM can make the world a better place?
Just look around! There are super-simple ways you can find “teachable moments” in your day-to-day life. Whether your girl is in grade school, middle school, or high school, she can have fun and learn about STEM at the same time—with your help!
Don’t sweat it. You don’t need to be an expert to introduce your girl to STEM; you just have to start the conversation…and she’ll learn the rest. Just get her thinking to spark her curiosity. And if she raises a question you can’t easily respond to, just say “good question” and find the answer together!
Here are easy activities to try, matched to her grade level:
Younger girls are natural explorers. Help her spot interesting STEM topics every day!
- Secret Lives of Animals
Getting outside and exploring nature is a perfect time to think about science. Look around for birds, squirrels, pigeons, dogs, even bugs. Do they walk, fly, or crawl? Do they interact with humans, or are they social with one another? Do they live in trees, in the ground, in our homes? Are they furry, feathery, or scaly? This is a great way introduce your girl to the environment, biology, and other sciences.
- Motion and Energy
Next time your daughter is running around bursting with energy, channel her enthusiasm into something entertaining—and educational. Encourage her to dance and explore body movement. Explain how movement requires energy, and explore how our bones and muscles make it possible for us to walk, run, jump, swim—and, of course, dance!
- Magical Magnets
Wait! Before you stick her latest artistic masterpiece on the fridge, here’s a perfect opportunity to explore magnets and magnetic attraction. Ask her to touch the magnet to different surfaces. See how it sticks to some metals, but not to wood, clothing, or the family pet. Grab another magnet and see how the two magnets attract—or repel—each other. And finally, use the magnet to hang the budding Picasso’s artwork on the fridge!
At this age, she’s thinking about her future and is ready to find her passion in STEM.
- Food Science
Baking is science—so it’s an easy way to teach kids about STEM. Bake a cake, a pie, or cookies to explore how ingredients like flour, sugar, milk, and water change when mixed together. Watch as the batter or dough rises in the oven, changes from liquid to solid, and then browns (or burns). Then talk about how our taste buds let us enjoy delicious treats. Chemistry, thermodynamics, and biology—triple score!
- Plants Made Easy
How do plants grow? Find out with fresh peas, a paper cup, and water! Wrap some paper towels around the inside of the cup, and place the peas about halfway down between the paper and the side of the cup. Add water and place the cup in a well-lit area. Soon the pea will sprout and your daughter can watch it grow. Plant it in a pot for even more learning fun!
- Pizza Party
Pizza is more than a meal; it’s an opportunity to learn about math. Help your girl explore fractions by considering how many slices of pizza make up the whole pie. Calculate the average number of pepperoni pieces per pizza slice. Get geometric by thinking about how the circular pizza fits in the square box. While you're at it, consider why (most) pizzas aren’t square…or pizza boxes round.)
She’s ready to explore her independence—and STEM may be the perfect vehicle to help her find her future.
Go outside at dusk to watch the stars (and planets) emerge. Watch the moonrise to learn about how the Earth rotates. Stick around for the constellations to appear. Use a telescope to take a closer look at stars, planets, even satellites! You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to think like one or appreciate the beauty of the night sky.
Things Are Made
Getting ready for a bike ride in the park? Before you pedal off, take a quick look at how the bike is designed and made. Talk about the thinking that went into its design, how people actually use bikes, and the materials used (metal, rubber, plastic). Take a moment to see how moving the pedals move the gears, which move the chain, which spins the wheel. Are there improvements that could make biking easier or safer? That’s engineering!
- Under the Hood
High-schoolers are always on the go! So get her thinking about transportation and energy use. Whether it’s a car, school bus, or train, it uses energy. How does the motor or engine convert fuel to the power necessary to move us? What can we do to use energy wisely and still get to school on time? Think about how even though a bus requires more fuel, it may be more efficient because it moves more people. She’ll be thinking like a scientist in no time!
Remember, when you’re encouraging your daughter to explore STEM subjects, it’s not about having the answers—it’s about raising the questions. Help her explore and find her own answers, and she’ll be thinking like a scientist before you know it!