OT: The Next STEM Generation

Now, it’s not a Star Trek reference. I’m actually breaking a bit from life this weekend to try and move my son forward in life. We’ve arranged a tour of the University of Colorado – Boulder campus, specifically with an eye on the aeronautical engineering program. He’s interested in that area, and we are trying to give him options for university next year.

I’ve hoped my kids would enjoy computers, and they do, but not like I enjoy them. They aren’t interested in building things with computers. They just want computers to do their bidding.

My oldest wasn’t very interested in computers at all, though I was able to teach him some SQL for his college GIS class the last year. We worked on understanding how to query data, but he never really understood the concepts well and needed help regularly. However he did learn enough to be able to alter my queries to meet the changing needs of different data sets.

My middle son is a math/science whiz, and spent a few weeks one summer learning programming at a camp. He built a few small applications, but beyond that he wasn’t interested in learning more. While he like chemistry and aeronautics, programming seems silly to him.

My daughter is the most savvy in moving data around, building web pages for visualizations and working across platforms. She seamlessly will use Windows, OSX, iOS, and Android on any given day across her four devices without blinking. She moves and uses data all the time, but hasn’t ever wanted to do more. She has done well in math and science, and is on pace to get to calculus her senior year of high school.

I do want to encourage kids to try STEM subjects, and feel comfortable. My daughter certainly has felt pressure, and has female friends that feel the same pressure, to not work in STEM fields. I’d like to eliminate that, but more importantly, I want everyone to try the topics and really get a chance to experiment.

If you don’t like STEM topics, that’s fine. Find another area you do enjoy more, but at least give STEM a try.

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