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Celebrating Science – TED Talks to Encourage STEM Studies

As I’ve been discovering over the past few months, there is a growing emphasis on STEM subjects these days – quite different from the environment when we first started homeschooling years ago…

“Why is that?” I have to ask. Why are STEM subjects “all the rage?”

As you watch all or some of these TED talks with your teens, discuss what they find interesting. Encourage them to discover even more questions. If you have a science fair coming up, perhaps they can find motivation perhaps for an idea...for a hypothesis that they can investigate on their own? Celebrate and enjoy the learning process!

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For the answer to that, I turned to those in the know at the Engineering for Kids (EFK) Foundation. Their answer?

According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. STEM degree holders have a higher income even in non-STEM careers. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy…  STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. This innovation and science literacy depends on a solid knowledge base in the STEM areas. It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science.  Source

While I am always engaged in a diligent search of tools to help me teach my STEM-lover as she grows into high school, it has occurred to me that continual studies can be tedious.

And even for those students who have a proclivity to STEM subjects, it can be inspirational to see examples of how they might someday contribute to society in creative and exciting ways.

These TED Talks are just the ticket! Watch them with your student during a break in book learning, when they’re feeling discouraged about school, or even to open new ideas to them when they’re excited about their studies.

Sure, we’re supposed to be teaching them…but how bout opening up possibilities and helping them grow wings, too?!

Here then, in no particular order, are

TED Talks to Encourage STEM Studies

1) Talk about motivation and dreaming big! This inspirational talk is a wonderful way to show your student a glimpse of how they can use their STEM studies to be a practical solution-provider in the world…

How I Teach Kids to Love Science


2) This takes us even beyond the saying “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” ANY question can take us to wonderful scientific discoveries!

How simple ideas lead to Scientific Studies


3) The project presented here is almost as impressive as the speaker. Teenager Ashton Cofer and his science fair teammates developed a heating treatment to break down used Styrofoam into something useful. Check out their original design, which won both the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award and the Scientific American Innovator Award from Google Science Fair.

A Young Inventor’s Plan to Recycle Styrofoam


4) So what do you think: does science really take the “magic” out of life? My favorite line: “Understanding, to me, does not remove the wonder and the joy.” (Note: Very definitely from a secular worldview, but interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking, nonetheless.)

Science versus wonder


5) What color is a mirror? While this video does seem to start out as an advertisement for the popular educational YouTube channel Vsauce, creator Michael Stevens shows how asking the right — seemingly silly — questions can make incredibly effective lessons.

How much does a video weigh?


6) I put this playlist (below) together from a collection of videos covering a wide range of scientific discoveries and STEM-related TED talks. The playlist includes the 5 videos above and many others. I’ve also been adding to it as new ones come across my feed.

As you watch any of them with your teen, talk about what interests them in each one. Do any of them pique their interest or bring to mind other questions? If you have a science fair coming up, perhaps they can find motivation for an idea…for a hypothesis that they can investigate on their own?

View my STEM-inspiring playlist here.

Do you have a student that is “into” STEM and has an entrepreneurial bend, too? Don’t let them be confined to a curriculum or limited to straight-up book learning. Sign up for our periodic newsletter and receive my report “How to Incorporate Creative Learning Opportunities Into A High School Transcript.”


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Pat is a Yankee city-girl who has been adopted by the sleepy, sunny south. Married for 30 years and the mother of 5, she woke up one day recently to discover she reached the stage of life where she is the “older woman” described in Titus 2:3-5. A coffee lover, the purchase of a coffee shop a few years ago was her personal foray into the small, family-owned business arena.Today, PatAndCandy.com is her outlet for packaging up and sharing the nuggets of wisdom God and life experiences have taught her.
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2 Responses to Celebrating Science – TED Talks to Encourage STEM Studies

  1. Michelle September 11, 2017 at 8:06 am #

    It is really important that we encourage STEM learning, especially for our girls. Women only earn about one third of STEM undergrad degrees, even though they account for 60% of college graduates. There are also far fewer girls in computer sciences and engineering.

    The solution to this is to encourge girls at a young age to be interested in STEM topics.

    • Pat September 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

      That’s right, Michele! But it’s just as important to have quality programs accessible to ALL of our students! Thanks for stopping by today…

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