Earlier this year, my daughter and I took a trip to Los Angeles, CA during Spring Break. It was her first trip to the entertainment capital of the country, so I was excited to see her reaction to her new journey. Of course, her main goal was to meet as many celebrities as she could and get insider information on how to become a rich and famous actress! Yes, she has stars in her eyes and dreams of one day walking the red carpet to receive the acclaimed Academy Award, maybe even by starring in a movie similar to her current pre-teen obsession, Teen Beach Movie … Oh… she you should see her; she day dreams for hours… LOL
So, as her parent I often sit back and wonder how all this is going to square with the curriculum of her new middle school program that she will be starting in the fall. Yes, I along with countless numbers of other parents across this country will be figuring out ways to support their child (ren) as they tackle the rigorous math and science training that a (S.T.E,M) focused school like Parkland requires in order to successfully complete their middle school magnet program.
And as the parent of MY wonderful daughter, J I wonder if she will try to dismiss the importance of the math and science training she will receive because she believes it will be irrelevant to her plans to be famous actress in the entertainment industry. As I recall my past experience in the early days of my math training, I know all too well how Nia could make the same decisions and therefore not give math and science her best effort as a student and her fear could cause her to not persevere through the difficulty she may encounter with a math and science curriculum.
Then I had another thought…
As I think beyond my own household, I wonder who many other parents in my community and even across the country are in the same situation? How many parents of S.T.E.M students are trying to decide how to address the fear of math and science that their child (ren) has? How are parents helping their kids overcome their fear of math and science, even if they may have a fear of math and science themselves? Exactly how are parents assisting STEM students with the high math and science learning curve
I think one of the first and most important things we can do is find ways to make STEM real in the lives of our child(ren). Help your child explore the role S.T.E.M plays in their current passion and career interest. STEM touches just about everything these days. If you do a little research and creative thinking, you can help your child see that if they want to be successful in just about any field or occupation, as good and thorough understanding of STEM is in their best interest for both their short term and long term academic and career goals.
So back to our trip to LA…
While on our tour of Universal Studios, we took the really cool VIP tour that included “backstage” access to many of the production sets and sound stages, I talked to her about all of the engineering skills used in creating movie sets; the uses of computer technology in film ranging from computer generated imagery (CGI) and special effects; animation; post production editing and even recording a film’s musical soundtrack! By the days end, Nia had a much more well-rounded understanding of the entertainment industry and all the different kinds of occupations in it. She sees options for herself other than being an actress and is being guided to thinking about other ways she can achieve her dream of being a Hollywood star! She know understands that her study of math and science now could wind up putting her on a path leading towards winning an Academy award both as Best Leading Actress in a major motion picture like Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook AND for best Visual Effects in a major motion picture like Bill Westenhofer for The Life of Pi. Hey, it could happen! I mean… the sky’s the limit!
So parents… find out… Where is the STEM in your child (rens) career passions? How can you help them see the importance of STEM in their lives and the world they are growing up in? What do you have to do to encourage them to preserver through the rigorous and possibly intimidating math and science study they will encounter? What role does STEM play in their interests and how can you support their further study?
We all know that STEM is not going anywhere. In just about every occupation today and into the future there is an aspect of STEM in it. So take the time now to do your research and encourage your child (ren) to do the same. When those challenging math and science assignments come up, remind them that in order to achieve their dreams, they will have to successfully complete math and science study today. Prepare them to embrace STEM and its role in tomorrow’s future.
For further reading, here are some resources to get you started…