What do T.V. and STEM have in common?

June 25, 2014

The question of how to reach outside the classroom to get children interested in STEM is answered.

The STEM Education Coalition’s mission statement concisely explains the goal of their STEM revolution currently going on in the classrooms of upcoming generations.

“The central mission of the STEM Education Coalition is to inform federal and state policymakers on the critical role that STEM education plays in U.S. competitiveness and future economic prosperity,” the STEM Coalition writes in their mission statement.

But, not only does the STEM Coalition hope to get students interested in STEM careers in school, but beyond that. They expressed that their aim is to also introduce STEM into the lives of students outside of school.

“[The STEM Coalition supports] establishing a high-priority for STEM-focused projects, programs, and curricula in education programs that support classroom teaching and learning and out-of-school experiences.”

While there have been some major steps taken in the world of STEM to get kids more interested in STEM fields, the question “How can STEM reach beyond the classroom into a child’s daily routine at home?” still begs to be answered.

While it may seem like a controversial idea at first, the next best option is fairly obvious: through television.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released the results from a study that kids aged 8 through 18 watch about 4 hours of T.V. a day. While this statistic could be viewed in a negative light, there is hope for that T.V. consumption, especially in the world of STEM. T.V. shows that are educational, involve STEM topics and are fun have become the next weapon in STEM’s arsenal.

PBS in particular has really stepped up their game in this category. PBS has admitted that a change in the T.V. watching habits of the younger generation is not going to occur anytime soon. As a result, they have taken the initiative and put out there a few award-winning STEM-involved shows. A few of these would be Nova, Nature, Cyberchase, Curious George and Sid The Science Kid.

PBS stated on their website that they agree that digital media is the next important step to getting kids interested in STEM.

“On-line broadband access and digital media are dramatically changing the opportunities available to the nation’s educators improving STEM education,” it reads on PBS Teachers STEM Education Resource Center’s page. “Digital media resources [are the next best option to] help students understand concepts, practice new skills and engage in exciting, authentic learning experiences.”

Excitingly, more has been done to expand STEM’s reach into the realm of girls’ television as well as boys’. The PPG Industries Foundation donated $65,000 to science, technology, engineering and mathematics educational resources that are aiming to reach out to girls.

Sue Sloan, Executive Director of PPG Industries Foundation, explains that PPG’s focus is on engaging children and developing the qualities in them that will make them the best future STEM workforce.

“Our primary funding focus is on education, particularly pertaining to STEM subjects, and these programs all demonstrate creative ways to engage young people – especially girls – in STEM learning in our PPG communities,” said Sloan. “PPG is pleased to support these organizations in stimulating interest in these areas and helping develop tomorrow’s scientists and workforce.”

A PBS show supported by PPG that is doing just what Sloan explained is SciGirls, a show that focuses on girls using science and engineering in their everyday lives.

While the idea of making these shows focused on STEM is great, but the final question that needs to be asked is, “Are these methods really working?” And, as SciGirls proves, these T.V. shows are. In fact, they are going above and beyond what was expected of them.

Paint & Coatings Industry has shared that SciGirls has way exceeded their expectations.

“The PBS television show, destination website, and education and outreach have reached over 14 million girls, educators, and families, making [SciGirls] the most widely accessed girls’ STEM program available nationally,” the PCI website read.

If this continues, STEM will continue to grow significantly, fulfilling the STEM Education Coalition’s and President Obama’s hopes for the future of STEM careers.

For more information, visit Paint & Coatings Industry’s website, this study done on kids and T.V., the PBS Teachers STEM Education Resource Center and the STEM Education Coalition’s mission statement.

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