The Maker Movement isn’t just gaining in popularity with adults, children are also joining the trend. With a $5-plus billion STEM education initiative backed by the government, and an endless array of making toys dedicated solely to kids, it’s never been easier to teach your kids how to make (and it’s never been more important). (Image via Make Magazine)


It’s no secret that the Maker Movement is on the rise. With the market expected to reach a record $6 billion in value next year, makers everywhere are focused to ensure the next generation has the skills necessary to build our future world. And there’s no better place to start than with kids, our own, to be exact. As MakerPro - working engineers, it’s our duty to teach the next generation.


In 2013, The Obama Administration rolled out its Five Year Strategic Plan for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education. The federal plan outlined a $5-plus billion initiative to revolutionize the entire U.S. education system by enhancing STEM education from kindergarten through university. The initiative began when a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found U.S. students ranked in the middle-to-lower range in K-12 STEM education globally, compared to students from 32 other countries.


In an effort to ensure the United States continued to act as a world leader in technology and innovation, the President proposed the Federal STEM plan, and the nation followed suit. The plan called for the restructuring of K-12 and university programs to increase STEM education and make learning about science and technology fun. Programs like Gever Tulley’s Tinkering School were founded, and a case study conducted by the school found children viewed tinkering as fun, and as a result were more engaged and learned more than using traditional pedagogy methodologies.


In fact, another study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University found students retained more information when teaching was supplemented with creative problem solving challenges – exactly the kind of play at the heart of engineering education. In a recent survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found employers prefer to hire engineering and other liberal science majors, due to the curriculums’ emphasis on solving complex problems. And now parents are teaching their kids those skills at home, too.



Via: Fisher-Price


While we all learned to tinker alongside our parents in the garage, the new generation of kids has an endless aisle of tinkering toys at its disposal, no matter the age. The Fisher-Price Code-A-Pillar introduces toddlers to the concept of coding by enabling kids to build their own robotic caterpillar. What it can do depends entirely on which body segments are used, but it is simple enough for a toddler to understand. The BoseBuild Speaker Cube allows kids to build their very own high-quality speaker from scratch (and hey, adults can build it, too).



Via: Kiwi Crate


For more hands-on learning, there are mail-order making kits like Kiwi Crate, which engage kids with a new STEM-based maker project each month. Maker Shed allows more advanced kids and adults alike to follow along with weekly making tutorials. And programs like Maker Ed and Maker Camp provide spaces where kids can learn together in a hands-on environment.



Via: Twitter: @MakerEdOrg


Overall, even if your kids decide not to become professional makers or engineers-by-day, an engineering education gives kids an invaluable skill: problem solving. We face problems every day. The better we can equip our children to solve life’s problems creatively, the more assured we could rest that we have raised successful adults.


In a recent student interview conducted by ECN, Abigail May Spohn, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Dayton, said she appreciated the STEM education she received because more than anything, it taught her how to problem solve. And there’s no situation in life where that is not helpful.


If your child does decide to pursue a STEM degree, there is no time like the present. The U.S. Department of Education estimates the need for STEM jobs will succeed the number of trained workers. The need for STEM professionals in Biomedical Engineering and Systems Software Developers, for example, is expected to increase by 62 percent and 32 percent, respectively. And that means there is a need to educate our children, now.


STEM education and engineering professionals shape our world. Those with the ability to make have the power to create any future they envision. That, truly, is the power of making at its core.


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