Young children make the best natural scientists, so why don’t more want to study STEM?

The UK has some of the best engineers in the world but there aren’t enough young people choosing STEM as a career. We all need to shout about this diverse and exciting subject..!

Trial and error play is a key stage of child development and is STEM learning taking place from a very young age.

Industry needs younger people…

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are skills that are in short supply in industry in the UK, that’s a known fact. As a nation we are global leaders in innovation, engineering and technology. However, in order to keep up with the pace of the world and innovative technologies we need many more young people to consider following a career in STEM.

The ‘word’ STEM is a buzz word in education and industry at the moment, provoking much comment and debate amongst educationalists, politicians and industry professionals alike. So why is it being talked about so much and why don’t more young people want to follow this career path?

Young explorers…

As very young infants our brains are processing, sifting and sorting the world around us in a very methodical and scientific way. We are born with a natural instinct to explore, with an innate curiosity to experiment and an ability to learn from our explorations. We are using STEM skills already!

To understand material and texture babies put things in their mouths. They learn from this physical feedback about the world.

One of the first activities we do with a toddler is to show them how to put one block on top of another, encourage them to build a tower, knock it down and build it again. STEM is being learned in those very early stages of childhood, through trial and error play.

Preschools and nurseries are full of science…the type of science that is hands on, get your hands dirty, go home wearing it, exciting and practical science. Early years brings all areas of learning into play activities, without any specific labelling of subjects. There’s no directing about whether activities are for boys or girls, whether it’s science or technology, maths or engineering. It’s free play and a free choice for children to engage in what they enjoy doing.

The turn off…

So what happens after those early years of natural curiosity to dilute young people’s enthusiasm and interest in STEM?

“Nobody really tinkers with cars any more, things don’t get mended they get replaced, so how do kids get involved? asks Twoey Director, Rachel Kilpin-Miller

One of the biggest influencers of children are their parents. They steer and guide children through a maze of life choices throughout their lives. It’s very easy to introduce a gender bias at an early age based on the toys, games and activities promoted to parents and children. These early influences can direct a young child away from certain interests or skills and towards others.

The STEM sell…

How can we encourage more children to continue to enjoy STEM learning throughout their school years and as a career choice?

We need to learn from those early childhood opportunities and inclusive experiences, grow children’s curiosity about how the world works and how they are able to influence and change it. If we nurture the inquisitive learning in all children and support their natural curiosity and enthusiasm for STEM concepts and principles, then we will see more young people choosing to pursue these subjects as a career choice. We all need to challenge the stereotypes and perceptions present in society and work to remove gender barriers for future generations.

So it’s a win-win…

The ultimate benefit of promoting STEM will not only be to individuals, but also to our country and economy. If we optimise the widest pool of home-grown talent and nurture these young engineers and scientists then we all contribute to keeping Britain great.As parents and educators we have a role to play to inspire young children, girls and boys, to get their hands on and hands in activities that nurture and promote an early passion and curiosity for STEM subjects. If we work towards this then the UK will continue to produce some of the best engineers and innovators in the world..!

Check out our wide range of Twoey products. We have an extensive selection of maths and science learning resources and a great range of early years furniture products designed for explorative play.