This past week I went to a local elementary school for their Career Day. The fifth graders had a few professionals from the area come in and spend 20 minutes with each class to talk about their careers and answer questions with the kids. I talked about aerospace engineering and rocket science. I showed a short movie about the industry and gave them a paper airplane sheet to take home and experiment with. They had great questions…hopefully I gave them great answers. 🙂
It was a fun experience, and if there is someone in the class who saw or heard something that gives them a spark of interest to pursue a career in a STEM field, it was a productive morning.
One thing I learned from the teacher who invited me was that earlier in the week the school had celebrated a STEM banquet. What a concept!
We’ve all been to sports banquets in schools (or known about them).
We’ve all been to music concerts in schools (or heard about them).
We’ve all been to end-of-year graduation ceremonies and award ceremonies.
Wouldn’t it be great if a school had enough happening with STEM subjects and activities–things like robotics clubs, rocket clubs, maker clubs, STEM scholarships, science fairs–that it justified an evening event to celebrate and recognize all of the students, teachers, parents, and volunteers who were doing great things???
Of course, it takes some hard work to put on an event like a STEM banquet. But the public recognition and support from administrators and parents make a very strong statement about how important these subjects are. Some kids need this positive encouragement and validation to keep going. We might like to think studying and working hard are an end in themselves (which I do, in many ways). But we don’t seem to have this attitude for our school sports teams, do we? Celebrations and recognitions are always a huge part of those activities.
I bet if our schools had more STEM banquets, more kids would have a reason to start and persist with some STEM subjects–and, ultimately–careers. For every kid who is motivated and encouraged to continue after that, it’s a great reason to do it.
If I can get a website from the school I visited that describes or highlights their STEM banquet, I’ll add it here later. For now, here is another school’s STEM banquet that you can check out for ideas.
If you have kids in K-12 school, or work in that setting, look for the STEM banquet in your school year! And if it doesn’t exist yet, start a conversation about it!