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How to support STEM learning at home

Technology is rapidly reshaping our workforce as we move from traditional approaches to more innovative and effective ways of working.

As the global economy becomes increasingly driven by data, digital technologies and innovation, there’s a growing demand for employees trained in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

In fact, international research indicates that 75 per cent of the fastest-growing occupations require STEM skills and knowledge, while employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow at almost twice the pace of other jobs.^

Despite this need, Australia’s STEM sector is struggling to find qualified employees.* This may be attributed to a high number of students opting out of, or performing poorly in, STEM subjects due to a lack of interest or inadequate education programs.**

STEM education gives your child the opportunity to not only build their future, but that of our country as well. By studying STEM, your child can bolster Australia’s STEM skills pipeline, developing skills that will make them more attractive to future employers and better equipped to manage daily life.

Preparing our kids of today for the jobs of tomorrow

As parents of the leaders of tomorrow, we want to equip you with simple tools that will help you further inspire your child’s STEM education outside the classroom and at home.

The most valuable support you can offer your child is encouraging curiosity, creative thinking and problem solving. Simple conversations with your child can be started with questions like:

  • Why did this happen?
  • How do you think that works?
  • What do you think might happen?

And there are plenty of opportunities to do this. That’s because STEM isn’t just about professors and blackboards… it’s everywhere. All you have to do is look around to see STEM at work. It’s ingrained in many facets of life. At the same time, there’s a lot more to STEM than equations and technology. Some researchers, thought leaders and academics argue that STEM, in reality, is a way of viewing and interacting with the world with an enquiring mind.

If you’d like to help your children embrace STEM, here are some simple examples to get started.

Food science

Food science is a great way to get your kids interested in STEM because it involves experiments that they can eat! In the kitchen, your kids can learn about chemistry and maths. Aside from specific food related experiments, you can also ask them about everyday occurrences in the kitchen. Like, why does toast burn? And what happens when water boils? You can even learn about the way computers work. You may have heard the word ‘algorithm’ before. Algorithms are one of the building blocks of technology. They drive everything from our laptops and phones, to Google, and to the future world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Now, it might sound like a complex, technical term, but an algorithm is simply a set of instructions that tell a computer what it needs to do in a given situation. In other words, algorithms are just like the recipes you use in your kitchen!


Another everyday activity you can get your kids involved in is gardening. Environmental science plays a huge role in STEM industries. From researching efficient farming techniques to looking at alternative fuels and energy sources, getting your child involved with environmental science is a great place to start them on a rewarding career path. Simple experiments, such as growing a seed in a jar, researching the lifecycle of a flower and the role of insects in the garden, can give kids the opportunity to build an interest in environmental science.

Building blocks and construction toys

Lastly, how about building blocks or construction toys? Do you have some of these lying around the house? When your child builds and creates structures with these toys, they’re using critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving. They’re also introduced to science, engineering and mathematical skills, as well as concepts such as architecture, design and geometry.

Great resources available

With a world of online resources available, supported by fast broadband such as via the nbn™ broadband access network, we encourage parents to use the internet to support their child’s STEM education at home or in the local library. There’s an array of great resources available at the click of a mouse. Check out these examples to help enhance your child’s STEM learning.

Your child’s mind is bound to be inquisitive and full of questions, so if you’re ever unsure about a question, you can always Google it. Who knows, you may learn something yourself!

The above are examples of simple things you can do to encourage and build your child’s STEM skills. This encouragement could be all it takes to set your child on a rewarding STEM-focused career path.

^ International research by (‘Effects of integrative approaches among STEM subjects on students’ learning’, Becker, K. and Park, K., Journal of STEM Education Volume 12 – Issue 5 & 6, July-September 2011
* Future-proofing Australia’s workforce by growing skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) /April 2015 
** Roslyn Prinsley & Krisztian Baranyai, 'Stem skills in the workforce: What do employers want?', Occasional Paper Series, Issue 9, March 2015, Office of the Chief Scientist

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