Thinking about my post on vested interest, I started to ask, Why? Why aren’t more people involved in STEM related activities?
I know from band, 10% or even less people actually plan on pursuing music. This relationship can be followed to other performing arts such as drama, orchestra, and chorus. This can also be seen in sports like football, soccer, baseball, hockey, etc. So why are so many people in these activities without long term interest?
Thinking more, I think it’s due to 2 reasons: Exposure – and View
In elementary school (or I believe they call it primary school in other countries), my favorite class was P.E./Gym/ whatever you want to call it. I loved running, throwing balls, rolling around in the grass until my white shirt was decorated with gold and green grass. But as a child, I had a liked engineering. Some of my influence came from my father. He led me down the right path to be an engineer. He merely mentioned the importance of math and science to engineering. However, my biggest influence came from Television ( though they were cartoons) and Legos.
I know my band director, as a child she disliked running around. Rather, she played instruments and that become her passion. Exposure-- to engineering and technology swung me from sports. If it wasn’t for the flashy lights and moving parts it wouldn’t have caught my childish mentality. I still remember, 2 years ago, my sophomore year, there was a young, maybe 10 year old kid looking at our Logomotion bot at a demonstration. I remember the lights reflecting off his large dark eyes. I remember the warm giggle as we plaved a tube around his head. If weexploit of the “flashyness” of robotics like we’ve been trained to do in games, we can accomplish so much more. 18 inch cubed robots expanding 12 feet into the air? 19 pound robots hanging in under 10 seconds? Robots flinging multiple footballs and soccerballs further than some children? We have the tools to impress.
When a few people asked why I spend so much time with robotics, I gave them the answer. However, their reaction wasn’t something I expected. Their first reaction was “isn’t it hard”? From then on, I realized that the difficulty associated with this field isn’t a “challenge accepted” type deal, but rather it’s viewed a horrifying, foreign “thing”.
With proper exposure, we can desensitize the population’s view on the difficulty STEM, and show them the excitement. Now that I think about it, whoever though of Vex IQ deserves a promotion, a hug, a thank you, a letter from the president, and a granted wish. With continued exposure to demonstrations, facilitated by excellent mentorship, inspirational peers, and easy oppourtunities, STEM can spread and penetrate the population.