Editor's note: This blog post was originally published March 8, 2013.
“Look!” exclaimed my nine year old daughter as she ran to meet me after school, arms outstretched. In one hand she held a small paper lantern with an opening the size of a pea that was covered in electrical tape. In the other, she held little light bulbs, the size of the ones on a string of holiday lights, that were wired to a coin battery. She inserted one of the lights into the lantern, pushed the battery, and lit her lantern.
The origami lantern is just one the many projects she completed in her electronics class. This semester she learned the basics of electricity and electronics through hands-on experimenting and building. It began with building circuits to learn about series/parallel, basic logic, lights/sounds, burglar alarms, and AM radios and transmitters. Starting with the basics, the kids progressed to building AM radios, origami lanterns powered by LED lights, and will be making a home made burglar alarm out of common household materials and a buzzer next week!
Understanding electronics through circuitry is the perfect blend of science, technology, engineering, and math— STEM topics. While my daughter has been introduced to engineering and has mentors in science related fields, many girls are not as fortunate.
If you’re intimidated by science, technology, engineering, and math, don’t be! One of the best ways to encourage your daughter to learn about these topics is to learn together. Here are 3 ways that allow you to learn more about STEM topics and explore them together.
- Learn about the many different jobs engineers do. The Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’s website teaches girls about all the different jobs that engineers do and the many types of engineering.
- Do some engineering at home. Try these hands on engineering activities. There’s also nothing wrong with taking apart old electronics to take a look inside at how they work.
- Learn through play. Created by female Stanford engineers to nurture a new generation of girls, toys such as Goldie Blox and Roominate are designed to motivate girls into thinking about technology innovation by exposing them to interactive building toys that incorporate STEM. Snap Circuits sets are also wonderful because they teach electronics and circuitry in a hands-on-way and there are always opportunities to advance skills by purchasing add on sets.