Encouraging Coding and STEM in Early Education

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are four main streams that influence solving the world’s problems. This doesn’t mean that streams such as English, Psychology, Communications, Finance and Economics don’t matter – what this means is that these four streams drive the logical thinking and problem solving ability to the most. 

The proliferation of AI-digitization and data-science makes it mandatory for everyone to be STEM-literate. Encouraging STEM education early in children will help interdisciplinary critical thinking – it will help your young children to gain advantage in mathematics and logical reasoning skills critical for child’s future success. Constructing this foundation will set the children and a nation up for future socio-economic gains.

STEM education fosters creative problem solving, logical reasoning, resilience and hard skills in coding and maths. It prepares children to learn by themselves and understand the world as the world around them evolves in technology and behaviour. Also, STEM education world-wide now increasingly integrates with economics, finance, psychology and linguistics. For example, the Yale Department of Economics used to categorise Economics traditionally as a Social Science major, but now it categorises Economics as a STEM major.

The Gender issue with STEM

Society generally regards STEM fields as masculine. Only about 30% of women are employed as scientists, engineers, mathematicians and professors. Educational institutions and parents world-wide have a major work to do in this regard to influence this metric. A women welcoming and learning environment and gender neutral STEM curriculum will empower girls in the STEM fields, including computer science and computer programming. Engaging them in a diverse set of projects will enhance their passion for the STEM subjects.

LEGOs, Coding Classes for Kids, Creative Building Classes for Kids, Designing, Tinkering stations, Robotics, etc. are just some of the handful ways of engaging children in STEM thinking. Project-based learning in these areas provide a strong foundation in solving difficult problems, programming, building things with bare hands, and adapting to thinking in difficult situations and failures. Many tests today such as Kangaroo Maths, Cognitive Abilities Test, NNAT, Gifted and Talented Education and others are already testing these foundational skills in children and catering to their advanced learning abilities sooner.

Nurturing creativity

Exposing children to museums, zoos, aquariums, safaris, science centres, university visits, libraries, emporiums, and nature visits will inspire creativity and inquisitive thinking in them. Apart from offering coding classes for kids, institutes such as UnicMinds are offering a course curated for kids interested in developing designing and building skills – “Designing & Building with Bare Hands – for Kids”. The drive for discovery, exploration and building things will serve a child throughout their life and help them inquire into the world around them with creativity, curiosity and problem-solving mindset.

STEM helps build life-long skills

Beyond coding classes, there are many fun projects for kids to engage in STEM in a variety of ways:

  1. Constructing Robots with Arduino
  2. Imaginative Construction with LEGOs
  3. Math Jenga
  4. Creative Building and Design
  5. KAPLA Blocks

At UnicMinds, kids can start to learn coding from the below courses apart from Scratch and Python.

  1. Space Programming Course (15 classes)
  2. Learning to program and build games in Minecraft course for kids  (30 classes)
  3. Doodle Programming in JavaScript course for kids (15 classes)
  4. JavaScript App development course (30 classes)
  5. Roblox Game Development course (30 classes)
  6. JavaScript/HTML/CSS Website Development (30 classes)
  7. Arduino Programming for Kids (using online simulator and also real breadboard and Arduino Uno)

Engaging in a full breadth of logical thinking and creative thinking exercises will provide a well-rounded development for children to develop useful skills for life-term. One on one mentoring and guidance through these projects and learning will build confidence and give them the tools they need to make their own ideas come to life. 

The author, Praveen Dasagi, is a Computer Scientist at Amazon and he specifically encourages all children to be engaged in learning coding and in STEM areas as early as possible. He is involved in curriculum design of coding and teaching coding to kids at UnicMinds.

Hope this is useful, thank you.