The challenge: awaken the passion for science in the little ones

Several studies of the Elhuyar Foundation show a «low interest» of the students for the STEAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics)

Awakening the passion and interest in certain professions among the youngest has become a challenge. Each one is curious about very different things, there are those who directed their steps towards very specific hobbies from a very young age, there are those who find it difficult to opt for one branch of study or another but, what numerous studies have shown is that science and technology do not occupy the first places among the preferences of adolescents and young people. The dizzying pace at which technology advances in the society in which we live poses a future in which “more professionals will be needed in these fields in the short term and there will not be enough to cover those needs”, indicates Aitziber Lasa, from the Elhuyar Foundation , and promoter of
‘STEAM Diagnostics – (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics)’, a study to find out the perception of these disciplines among young people from different parts of Bizkaia.

Extract from the educational material prepared by the Elhuyar Foundation./ /

Elhuyar Foundation

In the different surveys that this entity has carried out, the results are repeated: Knowledge of the STEAM activity is low. The students do not show a special interest in working in science and technology. In the study carried out in Bilbao, more than a thousand young people between the ages of 14 and 16 participated and once again gender inequalities and stereotypes came to light. The girls prefer professions related mainly to teaching and health sciences, while they do mention topics related to technology. “It is the girls who, although at school, are good at these subjects but still feel less capable, they have a very stereotyped vision and a perception that it is women who have it more difficult, and that logically is discouraged” Lasa commented – 46.9% of the boys think they will work in this sector, 29% of the girls. When it comes to asking young people how they imagine or how they visualize STEAM professionals, many of them see them as hardworking, fast, intelligent people, with a lot of patience and curiosity. In the opinion of some, working in these positions requires a long, demanding and difficult learning process. “Which makes, when imagining an arduous path, they opt for another type of study.”

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Through comics and books, the Elhuyar Foundation the benefits of discovering STEAM with the family./ /

Elhuyar Foundation

The data is clear, but now, how to get the little ones to bite the bug and want to discover more about science? The expert points out two ways. The first, look for real references. «Normalize the number of diverse profiles that exist and bring women who work in these fields closer to girls, and value their work. This has a lot of influence. On the other hand, Lasa refers to a concept that has emerged recently, scientific capital, which measures the commitment of each person to science. The person in charge of the study asks several questions: «How much science surrounds the children? What do we see on TV? What do we talk about at lunchtime? What books or stories are read? … ». In this line, it places families as one of the main engines to contribute to this interest in science and technology and to enter that wonderful world together. “Parents are references and role models for their children in many aspects, well in this one as well.” In addition to all the work that concerns teachers and schools, it is necessary to take science out of the classroom. “It brings many benefits.” That the little ones can feel, touch, listen, experiment … and on top of that, if it can be as a family, much better. “There are many options, from visits to museums, science fairs or even field trips,” they say from the Elhuyar Foundation and propose a series of steps to start opening that door to STEAM:

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1. Establish the bases for learning and the beginning of interest with younger ages. “As age increases we tend to discard areas that we do not like.”

2. Involve parents, guardians, caregivers and family. “STEAM education should not only be promoted from school, but the context and extracurricular activities have a great influence on young people and especially on girls. Consequently, all actors must act actively. ‘

3. Correct prejudices: presenting approaches that are as real and plural as possible.

4. Encourage dialogue between parents and children: «their beliefs and expectations have a great influence on the choice of study by young people, especially in the case of girls»

Myrtle Frost

"Reader. Evil problem solver. Typical analyst. Unapologetic internet ninja."

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