What are our kids’ chances of landing a good-paying job when they’re adults? According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the fastest growing jobs involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the so-called STEM skills. Incorporating the creative power of art and design into that equation gets you STEAM. In our increasingly technological society, it’s important to encourage our children to explore the everyday applications of these subjects early in life.
The career choices open to those with strong STEAM skills go beyond becoming an engineer or scientist. Kids could grow up to be a cyber crime investigator, an athletic trainer, a medical illustrator, a video game designer or a nurse. Technology affects almost all jobs, from business to farming. Our children need to be ready.
To introduce these concepts and give kids a chance to try different skills, the library has expanded our programming. “Though we have always offered STEAM-related programs, we are making it more of a focus now, since classroom and job success so heavily depend on knowledge in these subjects,” says Kristy Toplikar, DBRL youth librarian.
Our STEAM program offerings cover all ages from three-year-olds to teens. “The response to our new STEAM programs has been phenomenal, especially for children in upper elementary and middle school, and they attract an equal mix of boys and girls,” says Brandy Sanchez, another DBRL youth librarian. “’Circuit Science’ and ‘Sphero-nauts’ are full for most sessions. And our programs for young children are also gaining momentum as we introduce new educational toys like Ozobots and Engage Tablets.”
The library is not alone in recognizing the need to familiarize our children with a different set of job-preparation skills than what we grew up with. We’ve seen the growth of STEAM-related instruction in our local public schools, too, so we’re planning the library’s classes to complement what students are learning in the classroom. “We hope that the hands-on experience in our STEAM classes helps youth connect what they learn in school to real-world applications,” says Toplikar. “We also hope that they enjoy our programs so much that they are motivated to learn about STEAM topics.”
Having fun while you’re learning helps lessons last. “We’re always looking for opportunities to help children learn through play. The philosophy behind STEAM correlates perfectly with our approach toward library services for children,” adds Sanchez.
The demand for typists faded with the introduction of copiers, word processors and computers. That same kind of shift will keep happening as technological innovations add new types of jobs and make others obsolete. With that in mind, Toplikar concludes, “We’re hoping that our emphasis on STEAM classes empowers young people to learn more about these topics to better prepare themselves for successful futures.”