Recently in education circles, one acronym continually seems to pop up: STEM. What does it mean? Well, STEM refers to the following academic fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. There is currently an effort underway for education curriculums to push STEM areas of study, to better prepare students for competitive fields of employment upon graduation. Encouraging and fostering a child’s interest in STEM related areas can help steer them into STEM fields in an academic and professional environment in the future.
STEM jobs are growing: the number of employees in STEM fields rose from around 1 million in 1960 to nearly 6 million by 2011. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics further reports that STEM employment will grow by 18.7% between 2010 and 2020. These jobs also earn more on average than most other occupations: The median earnings for STEM occupations in 2012 was over $78,000, more than double that of the median for all other occupations. All these statistics point to a field that is rapidly growing and provides a high rate of compensation for those with the necessary skills.
Despite the growth and demand for these types of jobs, women and minorities are critically underrepresented in these fields. By preparing them early and promoting STEM education throughout their academic journey, more women and minorities will be prepared to fill these jobs when they enter the workforce. The need for workers in STEM fields is growing, and filling those positions starts with preparing students by focusing on those areas during their education.
Building up an appreciation for STEM related subjects doesn’t have to wait until a child is taking advanced level science and math classes. You can start encouraging their interest early by providing them with educational opportunities to experience science through the joy of play, with Safari Ltd®. Our Safariology® line features interactive and educational offerings that children can utilize in a real world setting to get an understanding of what makes the world around them tick.
Safariology® encompasses offerings outside of the more familiar Safari Ltd® toys. Rather than figurines of wildlife, prehistoric beasts or mythical creatures, the Safariology® collection focuses on a more interactive, hands-on approach to learning by engaging with the natural world more directly, and branches out into more varied subjects including astronomy, evolution and more. For example, the Solar System set includes miniature highly detailed models of the sun and the eight planets of the solar system, with an included acetate tray that allows them to be placed according to their relative orbits.
Other Safariology® tools encourage children to interact with their environment to get a firsthand look at the scientific world around them. The Mega-10 Magnifier features 4x and 10x magnification to let kids get an up-close look at specimens, and includes a set of tweezers to carefully move objects as needed. The World’s Best Bug Jar takes this to the next level, allowing kids to securely collect insect specimens and view them up close with a flip-up magnifier built into the lid. But the ultimate science tool is the Optic One, a handheld device that includes a built-in compass, monocular, binoculars, signaling mirror, magnifiers (2x and 4x) and a magnifying mirror. These tools are perfect for budding explorers on backyard scientific expeditions.
Our Life Cycle Series figure sets also take our core concept of lifelike animal figurines and places it in a biological context, to provide a better understanding of biological processes and the changes organisms go through. Children can learn how a caterpillar cocoons itself to become a butterfly, how a tadpole hatches from an egg and eventually grows into a frog, and how many other organisms make the journey from birth to maturity.
For a safe experiment in electricity, the Safari Ltd® Energy Ball allows children to create red flashing lights and pulsing sounds when they create a successful electrical circuit using their finger. This can demonstrate the principles of electricity without any danger of electric shock, while also providing a fun display of sound and light, especially in the dark!
Safari Ltd® and Safariology® give your child the tools needed to stoke and interest in science, which can lead them to pursue the fascinating world of STEM in their academic and professional path. It’s never too early to encourage your children to learn about the natural world they live in!