How to Meet Kids Where They Are With STEM

Written by: Reagan Flowers, Ph.D.

STEM subjects are not a passion for every child. However, as reliance on STEM continues to increase in every career field, every student can find joy in STEM through the activity they love most. So, whether it’s music, sports, or video games that excite the student in your life, here are some ideas to help incorporate STEM.

As our mission here at C-STEM is to close the gap for underserved and underrepresented students, I am sharing ideas that are easily accessible. That means free or inexpensive, and many activities are hands-on explorations that do not require technology.


Many kids have a passion for sports from a young age. Whether they have impressive athletic ability or very little, sports provide excellent opportunities to explore STEM, like:

Statistics – Watching a game in person or on TV and recording statistics is a skill that can help with many types of job types down the line, including accountant, data analyst, marketer, and researcher. Here’s a resource to help.

Mini Golf Physics – This fun game can be set up using items around the house.

Learning About Gravity With Sports Balls – This exercise works with a basketball, but you can play with any ball you have to learn more about gravity.

Entertainment (Video Games, Cartoons, Movies, TV, Science Fiction)

Today’s students are surrounded by more entertainment than ever before. So using the things that interest them most can be a great way to engage in STEM and discuss future opportunities. Here are just a few examples:

Behind the Scenes – Talk about how cartoons, shows, and games are made and what it would be like to create them as a career. Then, get the student’s brains going about the possibilities by having them research what it takes to become a game designer, scriptwriter, animator, or other careers that excite them. Of course, these careers require understanding of programming, engineering, proportions, and other STEM elements involved in bringing ideas to life.

Explore the Reality of Fiction – Talk with them about how likely the content of the media is. For example, what would that look like in a show where technology is implanted in the body or a game where people live on another planet? What would it take?

Encourage Creation – It’s easier than ever for today’s students to create videos, podcasts, and games. This is an excellent opportunity for them to explore more technical elements like sound, lighting, online optimization, etc.

Performing Arts (Music, Theater, Dance)

Over the past decade, art has increasingly been included in STEM education. Many schools have STEAM programs. This is because the arts involve many elements of science, technology, engineering, and math. This could apply to building a set, programming a teleprompter, sound engineering, and so much more. Even more importantly, the arts focus on the creative problem-solving and collaboration that are essential in STEM. Here are a few ways to expose the arts-loving student to STEM:

Acoustics – Every theater kid knows the power of projecting the voice, but there’s also this fun activity they can do with a friend. Simply go to four or five different locations and speak the same sentence at the same volume in each. Measure how close the friend has to get before they can clearly hear the sentence. This is an excellent opportunity to compare environments and determine how they affect sound.

Energy and Physiology – Have the student pay attention to the days, rehearsals, or performances where they have the most energy, then relate that back to what they ate that day, how much other activity they did, how much they slept, etc. This is a great way to learn more about biology and inspire future physical therapists, doctors, and trainers.

See a Show – This could be any show, from a free local festival to a Broadway matinee. Have the student bring a notebook and write down any questions about how things work. This could be how the sets move, how the costumes are made, how the lighting is organized, how the performers know when to enter or exit the stage, how the programs are made, or any other question. You don’t need to know all the answers – it’s an opportunity to research and learn them together!

As you can see, every area of life has some STEM component. Even if a student has no interest in science or math, finding the things they are passionate about is a way to get them interested in their own way. This is another step we can take to ensure all students have access to learning about STEM.

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11th Annual State of STEM Education Stakeholder Breakfast

Please join us at The Junior League of Houston from 7:30-9:00 AM

11th Annual State of STEM Education Stakeholder Breakfast

Please join us at The Junior League of Houston from 7:30-9:00 AM