5 Tips for Parents with Science-Loving Kids

By Dr. Francesca Catalano, Faculty Director, School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at American Public University

Scenario:  You’re a proud parent—your child has an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and she excels at it.  You’ve watched the White House briefings on the need to increase students in STEM fields and for our country to remain the leader in technology worldwide.

You hope someday that your baby can develop the next big technology or cure cancer.  But, there’s a problem: You’re not in a STEM field yourself.  Or—let’s be frank here—maybe you just don’t like science and are afraid of math. 

So how can you help your child in STEM? Here are five tips:

  1. Support, encourage, and inspire. In short, parent. Your child will have many interests that don’t coincide with your own. What about the countless hours you sat at a baseball game watching your son pitch? You probably don’t know much about baseball, but you showed up and cheered him on.  It’s the same thing here—support his science projects, take her to a robotics show.
  2. Go to science museums. These places are geek heaven and offer many programs geared towards children of all ages. They run the gamut of disciplines, ranging from natural history to planetariums to aquariums.
  3. Rent a science documentary or watch a science program on television like “Cosmos.”  There are tons of good documentaries that range from healthy eating to natural disasters to animal behavior. 
  4. Help your older child (high school age is probably best) connect with professionals at the local university so he or she can do a summer internship in a lab or volunteer at a doctor’s office. These types of hands- on experiences are invaluable in both fostering interest in STEM as well as establishing role models. One of the best ways to attract underrepresented groups in STEM, such as women and people of color, is to connect them to people who look like them doing science and technology.
  5. Talk to your child’s science teacher. Science teachers love science and would be thrilled to have more kids who want to study it. They can put you in touch with local events or groups designed to support the love of STEM.

Who knows, maybe your child will make a STEM fan out of you!

About the Author

Francesca Catalano has taught general education science for over 14 years. She is a professor of science and faculty director at American Public University.  She holds a doctorate in molecular biology from Loyola University Chicago and a law degree from DePaul College of Law.

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