Developing Interest in S.T.E.M. Subjects

by blackspanielgallery

S.T.E.M.(Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects are becoming the focus of interest as subjects that have a need for more students. Is one right for someone you know?

The S.T.E.M. subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) offer opportunities in our current society. These subjects can be extremely interesting, but fear of them often dissuades students from going into one of them. So, what can engender an interest, and can a parent or teacher help promote such an interest?

There are several ways of engendering an interest in one of these subjects.

First, even science has two parts, a qualitative understanding and a quantitative understanding. The second requires math, which varies depending on the field. The first involves understanding of the concepts. It is the qualitative understanding that can fun, and when something is fun it can bring out an interest. In the formative process keep things fascinating and pique the interest with enjoyment of discovery.

Another way of developing an interest in a S.T.E.M. subject is fulfilling a purpose. An environmentally conscious person might seek fulfillment in alternate energy sources. A humanitarian might seek fulfillment in medical technology. There are many medical positions for laboratory technicians that do not require becoming a doctor whereby a person can contribute to the health of the population. Reaching a goal if that involves contributing to the solution of a problem might well be enough to spark an interest.

Invalid Reason for Studying S.T.E.M. Subjects

Riches is not a valid reason to undertake a study of a S.T.E.M. field.  Such an interest is self-fulfilling, but it may fall short if a challenging aspect of the study path is reached.

 

When I entered the university in the mid-sixties there was an orientation.  One speaker made a comment that ninety-five percent of those wishing to major in engineering would not finish in engineering.  The reason was that many were seeking engineering as a source of money, expecting high paying positions after graduation.  That would not be enough to keep up the interest in engineering over the course of time.  I did not think this applied to me since I planned to major in physics, not engineering.  I also had a penchant for physics with a genuine interest, an interest not based on money.  Such a warning is still valid today. 

 

Valid reasons for going into S.T.E.M. do exist, as stated above.  And not every field has a segment as challenging as engineering, nor as physics.  Many have a less intense path to completion.  So, put away the fears and follow an interest, or a passion.

Resources Available

In many S.T.E.M. fields it is possible to explore knowledge with a basic book.  Often there are colorful pictures in such books, and the words are basic.  Many are devoid of equations.  These are an excellent way to explore the interesting aspects of a field for a young person still seeking a direction for future study.

 

A step beyond books is a plethora of items that can serve as a focus for an activity.  These can help develop a S.T.E.M. based hobby, which could flourish at a later time.  Actually, working with things that represent the fun aspect of a field can engage a student and be formative for a legitimate interest in the field.

 

Below we will explore several fields with suggestions on materials and books that would be appropriate.  Do not hesitate to go beyond the items shown, they each are simply representative of one or more of the field’s interesting aspect.

Geology

Geology is a fascinating field.  In most areas one can engage in rock hunting.  Finding pretty rocks is fine but being able to identify them is much better.  One can actually purchase rock samples that are identified.  Remember, no matter where you live there are rocks and minerals you cannot find locally.  Add a simple magnifying glass and be able to observe individual minerals that make up a rock.

 

A slightly more ambitious approach is to obtain models of such Earth features as volcanos and earthquakes.

 

Here, books can also help.  Books can address the different properties that are used in rock identification, such as luster, streak, fracture, and hardness.  But other books can Explain how the earth is made in layers, and how the tectonic plates interact with each other.

Meteorology

Observing the weather is easy, weather is a feature of every corner of the Earth.  Here, one can use an inexpensive weather station to make measurements.  Another resource one can use is the clouds, which are provided free by nature, in conjunction with an inexpensive cloud chart.

 

A basic meteorology book can also help with cloud identification, and even go into the composition of the different cloud types.  This makes it possible to look up and make an educated determination of what might be about to occur. 

 

Other contents of books include easy to understand explanations of wind, fronts, and pressure systems.  This makes weathercasts more meaningful.  The knowledge can easily be incorporated into the use of a simple weather station.

Astronomy

Astronomy is interesting, and the stars and planets are easy to observe.  The best resource is a telescope.  Inexpensive telescopes are easy to find, but the extra money to have one that can track stars is important.  Otherwise, as the Earth rotates the star can easily move from the field of vision.

 

One modern advancement is to have a telescope with an embedded digital camera that connects directly to a computer.  This allows multiple observers to view an object at the same time, and images to be captured as photographs.

 

A star chart that locates and identifies celestial objects is important.  The current technology is to go digital, so in the sky a location of an object at a given place, time, and date can be accurately determined.

 

Books can go beyond stars, and they can discuss things not observable with a simple telescope.  The exciting worlds of moons about other planets can open the curiosity to study beyond what is known.  Also, dwarf planets are interesting, but too small to be observed by a simple telescope.  Currently, planets are being discovered about distant stars.

 

One way one can help with the preservation of the Earth is to eventually go into the study of NEOs, which stands for near Earth objects.  These are rocks and comets in space near the Earth, some of which can cause major damage if they were to impact the Earth.  Finding problem objects in time to deflect them could be a planet-saving find.

Telescope Article

Increase your fun when using a telescope by using a system that makes viewing so much easier, and allows an entire group to share the telescope.

Biology and Medical Technology

It is not practical to purchase a zoo, but there is a whole world of small life forms that cannot be seen unless one uses a microscope.  Simple microscopes are inexpensive.  Make certain the magnification is high enough to allow seeing small microbes.

 

As with telescopes, microscopes with an embedded digital camera allows easier viewing, group viewing, and even photographs. 

 

Books on various specialties such as birds, reptiles, insects, fish, and mammals can be the source of a myriad of photographs of species you might not otherwise see. 

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy includes geothermal energy, solar energy, and wind energy.  Kits for studying windmills, and solar energy can be found.  The principles are the same as used in large applications on a commercial basis, so these kits are great learning tools.

 

Books can go into what is happening within the alternative energy units.  How electricity is produced and transformed into useful power is beyond observing a function model but can add so much to the understanding of the model.

Electronics and Instrument Design

Electronics can get quite involved, but a few basis principles are at the basis of electronics.  Electronics does require we understand Ohm’s Law, which can require basic math, but the math is not too advanced. 

 

Simple circuits can be built with kits. 

 

Books on electronics can explain Ohm’s Law, and other basics of the field. 

Chemistry

Chemistry sets are designed for discovery, often without an understanding of the math or other involved details.  Simple experiments with instructions allow for some interesting results.

 

Books can explain the rudimentary concepts of chemistry, such as types of electron bonds, and the difference in acids and bases. 

 

Conclusion

S.T.E.M. need not be feared.  There are interesting things that can become the seeds for further study.

 

Not all S.T.E.M. subjects have the same dependence on math.  In physics, advanced math is unavoidable.  In many of the fields mentioned above it might be an academic hurtle to get passed, but a lower hurtle than would be encountered in something like physics.  So, if your passion lies in a S.T.E.M. field, or of your encounter with a field is fun, it might be that the field is a good fit for you.

 

I did not cover math here because our focus was to look at the qualitive aspects of the S.T.E.M. fields, and the concept of taking math out of math is not possible.  However, math is handled in another article that I recently published.  Please see the link below.

S.T.E.M.Math

The study of S.T.E.M. subjects is important, and at the root of all S.T.E.M. subjects is math. Learn how to approach math is a meaningful way and have results.

This article contains links to affiliate programs and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

The introduction image is of our own Zazzle product,

Updated: 03/08/2019, blackspanielgallery
 
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blackspanielgallery 29 days ago

Yes, it is a very interesting and exciting group of study possibilities. I recall when I was in high school attending a seminar for students, and the university professor told us he loved science because he got paid to play with toys. Lab equipment is our toys, for those of us in STEM.

katiem2 29 days ago

S.T.E.M. is a marvelous program and one in great need of support. Both of my daughters are well educated and STEM was a big part of that. I remember in elementary, when they were focused greatly on world cultures and foreign language, they complained there was not enough math and science, both girls love science. I worked to have them enrolled in the advanced S.T.E.M program and they thrived well. My oldest is now working on a research team at The Ohio State University Wexner Cancer and Genetics Research Team. A good science and math program is a must in early education as a stepping stone to bigger and more exciting learning.

blackspanielgallery on 02/20/2019

It is more than a hobby, I have two Masters degrees, one in applied physics and one in math. The fun of sixty years ago evolved into a profession. Yes, it is still fun.

DerdriuMarriner on 02/20/2019

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for the practicalities and the products. Do you have STEM-related hobbies? If so, is there an overlap between the fun aspects and your chosen field?

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