Although technology is now entrenched in our children’s daily lives, there is a lack of adequate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education during the early elementary school years. Sadly, this is causing a decline in students pursuing STEM careers down the road.
This is an even bigger concern for girls. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2012 women earned 43 percent of bachelor’s degrees in math and statistics, 41 percent in physical sciences, 19 percent in engineering, and 18 percent in technological fields like computer science . Unfortunately, cultural stereotypes in the United States imply that girls have lower ability in STEM fields compared with boys, causing girls to turn to other activities. Another issue is that girls are not getting enough chances to experience technology-related activities, and this pattern continues as they get older.
Understanding science, or being scientifically literate, plays a major role in ensuring that our children are happy and healthy. It empowers them to not be taken advantage of and bullied, and helps them to confront critical issues that impact their lives. It gives them the tools and confidence to evaluate and question information presented to them. They need to be exposed to situations that force them to think about how the world works, and to have opportunities to be in awe of science like when they see a rainbow or learn how life is created.
We can help instill a sense of inquisitiveness and scientific literacy in our children with a few easy steps. Encourage them to become more interested in STEM by signing them up for summer camps and after-school programs, visiting science museums or theme parks like Legoland that focus on STEM activities, doing science experiments at home, and participating in volunteer work that focuses on science.
You can even throw a STEM related birthday party. When my son was younger he had a Lego building party and this year he is having a Minecraft and robotics party. Most importantly, you can get your children excited about STEM from a very young age by reading to them. Choose books about science topics that encourage your children’s curiosity and broaden their knowledge base. BOON-Dah children’s books aim to do just that.
BOON-Dah STEM Books
As a neuroscientist turned children’s book author, Praba Soundararajan is the founder and CEO of BOON-dah LLC. His books introduce inventions and scientific concepts to elementary school children through stories that integrate imagination with science and technology. He believes we can help develop, nurture, and grow the creativity and curiosity in our children, and inspire them to become the next generation of scientists and inventors that will transform our lives and the world around us.
These books tap into experiential learning, an approach that experts agree is effective for teaching STEM to young children. As a concerned father wanting to help teach STEM concepts to his own daughter, he was shocked by how difficult it was to find picture books that focused on experiential learning. So, he decided to write his own!
BOON-dah books center around the main character Pumpus the pumpkin, who is a creative and resourceful inventor. In each story, Pumpus and his friends solve a problem relating to an invention. Each scenario highlights innovation and creative thinking while introducing scientific principles. All of the stories are fun, clever, and uplifting, and enhanced by inviting, colorful illustrations.
In Pumpus Has A Glowing Idea!, Pumpus and his friends are going on a hike in the mountains with the plan to camp overnight during Halloween time. Unfortunately, Pumpus discovers that he forgot matches to light the wood for their campfire. He then remembers how fire is made by friction, when we rub objects together. They proceed to rub a stick together with a log to create the campfire just before it got dark outside, following all the necessary safety rules, of course. They had so much fun around the campfire laughing and carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns.
In Pumpus Has A Flowing Idea!, the plan to sleepover in their treehouse. As they are hiking to the treehouse, Pumpus realizes that he forgot the batteries for his flashlight. He refers to his handy book of inventions to try to find a solution to this problem. The friends try to make their own power for electricity. They read about how to make electricity from a flowing stream of water using a dynamo, which is a small machine that creates electricity when its wheel rotates. Pumpus showed his friends the small dynamo he happen to have in his toolbox. By placing the waterwheel on a stand in the stream, the water flowing against the blades makes the waterwheel rotate, and therefore, creates electricity. They were so excited when the flashlight lit up, so they could enjoy their sleepover.
The books include some additional material after the story that is especially helpful. There are science facts, benefits of the invention they used, safety tips, recommendations for other books to read, and science project ideas.
My kids loved both of these books. We are so excited for the next Pumpus book to come out, which will have an environmental theme. Look for Pumpus Has A Growing Idea! coming soon. In this story, Pumpus and his friends plan to plant a vegetable garden in the woods on a piece of land that happens to have a well with a water tap. But when they realize that there is only a little water dripping from the tap, Pumpus uses his book of inventions to solve the problem by developing a “Trickler-Sprinkler” (a kid’s version of drip irrigation).
Learn more about BOON-dah Books by visiting their website.
Want to learn how you can safeguard your children’s science education? Check out Happy Science Mom’s Science Advocacy Project.
How do you encourage your kids to learn about STEM topics?
*This post was sponsored by BOON-dah LLC.