Image STEAM Education – Giving your kids opportunity to be the next Bill Gates
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STEAM Education – Giving your kids opportunity to be the next Bill Gates

There is no formula to success, much less how to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

So, that’s it? Blog post over? My kids can never be the next tech billionaire?

Well, not exactly. While no one has the answers to ensure our kids land on TIME Magazine’s Most Influential People list or on the next cover of WIRED magazine, we do know a thing or two about what skills they’ll need to succeed in the 21st century, and providing access to STEAM Education is one of these.

INNOVATION. It’s simple–the world is rapidly changing and thinking outside the box and being able to innovate and adapt are key to future success. Teaching young learners innovation is an integral part of any STEAM education curriculum, in addition to teaching kids coding, design thinking, and problem solving skills.

Artificial intelligence, robots, nanotechnology, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles–they are the future. And as parents and educators, it is important to ensure that our children possess new key competencies and skills necessary for the new economy.

Interestingly, what Gates, Zuckerberg, Larry Page (Google co-founder), and Jack Dorsey (Twitter co-founder and CEO)–some of the world’s leading technologists–have in common, is that they all put great focus into related fields most crucial to the technological revolution. But also nowadays, aside from managing their successful empires, they are all constantly educating and advocating the importance of computer programming for kids, innovation, and design thinking for young learners.

Voicing their collective sentiment, Bill Gates said:

"Our current expectations for what our students should learn in school were set fifty years ago to meet the needs of an economy based on manufacturing and agriculture. We now have an economy based on knowledge and technology.”

In response to the changing job landscape, politicians, policy makers, school administrators, and captains of industry have been strongly advocating the addition of STEM and STEAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in schools to align learning with the needs of the digital age.

STEAM education is an evolution from STEM that includes the “A” for Arts, which was added as many studies demonstrate people with exposure to arts become higher quality technical professionals who are also creative and critical thinkers, better prepared for success.

STEAM education improves learning outcomes and seeks to tie all subjects together in a multi-disciplinary way, while challenging students with open ended questions that are often based on real world problems. Also,  it’s even more effective in elevating learning outcomes in a blended environment (when mixed with digital media), especially when teaching kids coding, robotics, design process, and innovation.

Most importantly, STEAM is not only about giving your kids a certain skill or knowledge, but rather, a 21st century mindset. It encourages and stimulates their curiosity to discover new technologies and be more proactive in contributing to solve real world problems. It also fosters innovative and computational thinking, which are important qualities in today’s new career landscape.

Once perceived as jobs for “nerds,” jobs in technology and design are now considered the new cool. As Zuckerberg, Gates, and Steve Jobs become household names, many kids these days look up to and aspire to be pioneering legends themselves one day.

Technology will always be constantly evolving at speeds that are sometimes hard to imagine. These changes are inevitable and we should view them as exciting new opportunities. As we look forward to the promise of a better tomorrow, investing in our kids’ future by teaching STEAM skills is the smart thing to do, and a necessary one too. Whether they become the next Bill Gates or not, it’s crucial that as parents (and teachers), we give our kids opportunities to achieve their highest potential by equipping them with important 21st Century skills needed to thrive in the future.

Ask your school about their STEAM curriculum, and checkout online resources and products for home to help boost your child’s exposure to STEAM education, which teaches important new skills like computer programming for kids. See below for suggested links and resources.