The answer is- It depends. Yes, it depends on who your child is and which area of STEM they are interested in?
I know a few moms that love to follow what other moms are doing. If her son is taking a STEM activity, so should mine. That logic is ok and it can work for some people but what really needs to happen is that you need to take a deep dive with your child and understand their feelings. Who they are as a person? Yes, they are young but they are a thinking and feeling person. They must participate in their own success.
The best way is for me to describe to you what engineering really is about. And its not what you think. Its not about fancy robots, cool tech gadgets and coding. For me, Engineering is about taking information and synthesizing it to solve a problem. And even before you solve a problem, its important to define the problem that your are solving. So in short engineering is about defining problems and solving them. And it may take several tries to do that. So you can now understand that once you can solve that problem, you must feel rewarded inside.
You don’t become an engineer by reading books or earning a degree. Yes you will need those if you want to earn money as an engineer. But. You become an engineer by changing your thought process. Most Engineering and Technology fields require this qualification. You must be able to do a lot of thinking. You must be able to apply yourself to define and solve problems.
If your design does not work, you must not attach your “self” to that idea. I have seen many engineers make that mistake- Its my idea, I must hang onto it. You must be able to cultivate objective thinking. You must be able to move on quickly to other better ideas.
Does your child like to think about problems? Do they love their ideas too much to move on? Can your child think objectively? Do they feel rewarded when they solve that problem? Observe them carefully and you will know. I will show how I understood my child’s thinking process.
From a very young age, he liked to build legos. He has a whole cabinet full of them. I helped him with several science fairs. Every summer, we would also send him to a STEM class. Well I said to myself, you are building legos you must also love to engineer things. So you know being a dad and an engineer, I kept trying to get him to design and work with me. He would not respond very well.
And this is where the ‘story’ takes a turn. All these years, he had been building lego castles, cars, and people to use them in his stories. He loves to create stories with those lego pieces. He is a ninth grader now and is into creating stories and expressing them through animations on his youtube channel - ANUMATION.
So what may look like a child interested in STEM may be something else.
Hey Mom and dad, Look deeper.