Updated: Jan 9, 2020
We are just like you. We spend and have spent thousands on travel sports, Tae Kwon Do, camps, and clinics. Oh, and that doesn’t count the travel costs, food, and medical bills. But I will be the first one to tell you that it is totally worth it. You hear the horror stories about the parents who drive their children to achieve perfection in little league baseball because there is a chance that they can “go to college for free” or even play professionally. Heck, I’ve even seen these parents up close and personal. But that’s not most of us. That isn’t the reason we pay so much, give so much time, and are there in the rain, wind, snow, or sunshine to cheer on our favorite teams and players.
Sports teaches kids a lot of important lessons about perseverance, hard work, dedication, and how to work together to achieve a common goal. Sports also gives kids a sense of self-confidence that isn’t easily attained via other activities. Learning how to win and how to lose is incredibly important as is learning how to trust your teammates. Plus, it gets them out of the house and running around. In a digital world, this can be worth its weight in gold. And yes, I recognize the irony of a guy trying to convince you to increase your kids’ technology proficiency is talking about the benefits of putting it down and running around!
So why don’t we put as much time and effort into STEAM activities? As I thought about this question, my first knee jerk reaction is that there are too many options with no clear progression. I think, by and large, parents do realize the importance of STEAM but have no idea about the who/what/how of getting their kids involved. Let’s table that thought for a second and do a side by side comparison of a few of the benefits of Sports and a few of the benefits of STEAM.
I freely admit that these lists aren’t comprehensive, but they do help illustrate a point. STEAM education and activities have some of the same benefits that sports have, plus a few extra just for fun. So, then I ask you again, why are we not investing as much money and energy into our children’s STEAM education? Well, I believe that part of the reason is because of our first knee-jerk answer – too many options with no clear direction. In fairness, STEAM is an incredibly broad area. I mean, just look at the acronym itself. We just keep adding topics! What started as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) has now become STEAM (Art – which I agree with!). And now there is a movement to add Reading…STREAM?? But I digress. Today most “STEAM” organizations focus on coding. “Coding” has basically become a marketing term that represents building video game using coding languages in the hope that kids will use what they have learned to go to college or get a job.
Inherently, there is nothing wrong with that strategy. Games are fun and building them is really cool. The first issue I see with that, however, is that there are so many options. Do you join a local business that lets you come in a couple nights a week for a large monthly fee or do you sign up for one of the 50 online coding apps? Do I just search Google or YouTube? And is coding all that I need? What about robotics? Is that important? What if my kid wants to build computers? Well, therein lies the problem. Sports is a known commodity. We understand soccer vs volleyball. We understand cheer vs golf. We know how to get our kids involved and we have entire organizations that are dedicated to helping our kids progress through the different levels.
Why don’t we have this for STEAM? Well, we at CodeForce are working on that. And this post will be the first of many that will help you navigate the world of STEAM activities for your kids. No matter what organization you choose, we hope to give you a baseline template for organizing your kids’ enrichment.
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