As a toddler, Jeff Bezos took his crib apart with a screwdriver. Twelve-year-old Mark Zuckerberg used a programming language called Atari BASIC to create a computer messaging system, which he called “ZuckNet.” Larry Page was exposed to STEM from a young age by his parents, who were both computer science professionals.
Intuitively it makes sense that early exposure to STEM has a positive impact on kids. The kids above went on to build Amazon, Facebook, and Google, respectively. And while there’s no way to know with certainty what your kids will grow up to do, it’s possible that — if we don’t teach them STEM concepts early and often — we’re not preparing them adequately for the future of work.
Today, littleBits is excited to share a new study on this topic that we compiled in partnership with YouGov, a third-party research organization. Here’s just a glimpse of what we learned:
Providing students with access to core STEM courses as early as elementary school increases their interest in pursuing STEM careers later in life.
It makes sense, right? Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of the television, had access to electronics and machinery equipment when he was in grade school. That’s where taught himself the principles of engineering. Without these tools that he learned as a kid, it’s possible the television may not exist today.
It is critical to set kids on a STEM-focused career in elementary school, but we may not be doing enough to get them there.
While it’s true that an increasing number of workers report having had access to STEM education in elementary school each year, the numbers are still disappointing. Only nine percent of people who have been in the workforce for 20+ years reported exposure to STEM-related tracks in elementary school.
In our report, “Early Exposure to STEM and Its Impact on the Future of Work,” we explore the current state of STEM education and how we can work together to promote STEM in our schools and communities.