STEM Surfboard Lesson for Kids • The History and Science of Duke Kahanamoku

Dive into the history of Duke Kahanamoku with a history and STEM surfboard lesson for kids

You've probably heard the term "The Big Kahuna" in reference to an important person, thing, or objective. But where does this term come from? This Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we're diving into the history of the original Big Kahuna - Olympic Medalist, and the Father of Surfing - Duke Kahanamoku with this history and STEM surfboard lesson for kids of all ages!


 

While surf, sun, and swimming have become synonymous with the Hawaiin Islands, this has not always been the case.

At this time, Hawaii was in the midst of many cultural and governmental changes. The expansion of Christianity and foreign missionary influences were having a major impact on Hawaiian heritage and traditions such as surfing. By the end of the 19th century, foreign missionaries had almost erased surfing - or the act of riding waves - from the Hawaiian Islands.

This is where Duke Kahanamoku rides in!

The Big Kahuna was born in Haleʻākala in 1890. He was an excellent surfer, 5-time Olympic Swimming Medalist, actor, and proud representative of his native land. He and a group of fellow surfers even saved the lives of eight after a wave sank their 40-foot boat!

His Kahanamoku Kick swimming technique, superior surfing, and all-around positive passion gave Duke the opportunity to share his skills with the world. He began participating and teaching in surfing exhibitions around the world, going on to become the first person to be inducted into both the Surfing Hall of Fame and the Swimming Hall of Fame.

Sure enough, surfing started to become popular in Hawaii again! Despite the emerging designs including lighter, hollow boards, Duke preferred his own surfboards to be made from koatree using traditional Hawaiian methods, bringing his roots back into the sport. His natural abilities and love of the sport led him to become the legendary surfer known as “The Big Kahuna” and the “Father of Surfing.”

As we reflect on Duke’s life and accomplishments, let’s also look back at his culture and childhood. Duke came from a well-known family that ruled several kingdoms. This gave him a deep appreciation and understanding of Hawaiian culture, which he fought for throughout his entire life. In 1959, when Hawaii became the 50th US State, Kahanamoku was officially named the State of Hawaii Ambassador of Aloha.

There is a statue of Duke in Hawaii near the beach where his ashes were spread. He will forever be loved by the people of Hawaii and looked at as a hero. Because of his talents and passion for surfing, he is known for giving Hawaii a new dimension of international stature, stating that, "he was the soul of dignity."

He is still well loved in his native home of Hawaii, but he is also beloved by surfers everywhere. Not only was he a hero, a great person, and a pioneer-- he was just an all-around good person who fought for Hawaiian culture and surfing.

This summer when you’re hitting the waves with your surfboard, think about the origin, and thank Duke for making surfing what it is today. Surfs up!

a statue of duke kahanamoku in hawaii

Expand with an activity! 


 

Whether you're hitting the beach, the pool, or creating a tropical getaway in your own backyard, add a little science to your summer with you this surfing STEM lesson for kids! 

Surfboards can come in all shapes and sizes and are made out of different kinds of materials depending on the surf. Using materials you can find around the house and a little creative flair, learn about the science of surfboards with this easy DIY activity! 

a photo of small colorful foam surfboards

Community Scientist Movements You Can Contribute to

Add to Scientific Research Projects as a Community Scientist!

There are thousands of brilliant scientists with PhDs and decades of experience who are on the cutting edge of science and technology. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all do our part in pushing the field of science further! Zooniverse is an online collection of scientific projects that everyday science enthusiasts – also known as community scientists – can take part in.

There are numerous different ongoing experiments that require the eyes, ears, and minds of the masses. Want to join the fight against antibiotic resistance? Or perhaps you want to further the research of penguins and their environment? You can even help astronomers find ripples in the very fabric of spacetime! These and even more fantastic projects are taking place right now, and they need YOU to become a citizen scientist to help out!

Check out some of the exciting projects you can help with below, or visit the main Zooniverse website to explore more ways YOU can become a community scientist!

Out-of-this-world astronomy!


 

Galaxy Zoo 

There are hundreds of billions of galaxies in our observable universe, waaaay too many for astronomers to classify on their own. This is where you come in! Analyze actual photos of distant galaxies that few humans have ever seen, and help us to better understand our universe in the process.

Planet Four

In this project, scientists can study pictures of Mars’ southern polar region to determine seasonal changes. Helpers will mark CO2 vents as fans or splotches to help understand how Mars’ seasonal pattern works.

Field Work


 

Notes from Nature 

This project allows you to explore the hand-written notes of historical botanists. Help modernize and digitize the important work that scientists from hundreds of years ago embarked on.

The University of Wyoming Raccoon Project

Look at pictures of raccoons trying to access food from a puzzle box! Using these pictures, citizen scientists will use special tools to identify what type of animal is onscreen to improve the project’s algorithm. The algorithm will help researchers study the behavioral patterns and traits of our favorite “trash pandas!”

Hummingbirds at Home

Using the Audubon Hummingbirds at Home app, you can create your very own “patch” to study hummingbirds and their activity. The patch can be your backyard, your porch, a local park, or any area you’d like! By studying hummingbirds and the nectar they collect, you can help scientists study the impact of global climate change!

iNaturalist

Have you ever seen a plant or animal and wondered what it was? There's an app for that! The iNaturalist app not only helps you identify new organisms, but hare your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe, point, and click! You can download the free app for Apple or Android devices.

Making Change


 

Power to the People 

Close to 1 billion people live without electricity worldwide but fixing this has proven to be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. The only way to solve this problem is to train an AI to identify homes in rural areas but training such a complex algorithm requires the help of hundreds of people... people like you!

Anti-Slavery Manuscripts

Guests will review handwritten correspondence between 19th anti-slavery activists and turn them into text that can be more easily read by teachers, students, historians, and artificial intelligence programs.

We hope you enjoy these citizen scientist projects. Thank you for making a difference and furthering scientific research!

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Support OSC At Home

In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!

Black History Monuments in Central Florida • Orlando Science Center Honors Red Tail Pilots

Signature Monument  Commemorates the First Black American Military Aviators 

Orlando may be known for its vast array of entertainment and attractions, but there is also rich, diverse, and unique culture. Throughout the years, the community has come together to create and preserve Black history monuments, museums, landmarks, and more, here in Central Florida. 

Since 2013, guests coming to Orlando Science Center from the Loch Haven Park entrance have been greeted by the Red Tails Monument, a 12-foot bronze spire leading up to four P-51 Mustang aircrafts in the “missing man” formation. The statue stands in honor of the bravery, passion, and sacrifice of the elite fighter group of Tuskegee Airmen known as the “Red Tail Angels,” nicknamed for the distinctive red paint on their aircraft propellers and tails.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the United States armed forces. A total of 932 Black pilots trained at a segregated air base in Tuskegee, Alabama between 1941 and 1946. Of those, 356 were chosen to make up the elite 332nd Fighter Group, who would go on to be known as the Red Tails. They were sent to various European bases to fly escort for heavy bombers of the 15th Air Force during raids deep into enemy territory, earning an impressive combat record. Because they had one of the lowest loss records of any escort fighter group, bomber crews often requested to be escorted by the Red Tails. Of the 356 Red Tail pilots, 80 were killed, 32 were prisoners of war, and 17 were shot down, but evaded capture.

a photo of a dozen Red Tail pilots standing in front of a plane

Before the Tuskegee Airmen, no Black American had ever been a United States military pilot. During World War II, many U.S. states still upheld Jim Crow laws, a series of racist legislation that enforced the “separate but equal” treatment of Black Americans. These laws were used as justification for blocking previous attempts by Black American soldiers to become pilots. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to systemic racism, prejudice, and discrimination both within and outside the army. In spite of these adversities, they trained and flew with distinction while simultaneously fighting for their own civil rights. Even after proving their worth as world-class pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen still encountered segregation and were not permitted to fly alongside their white counterparts. The United States Armed Forces remained segregated until 1948.

The Red Tail Pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen played a crucial role in preparing the nation for racial integration in the military. Their heroic example continues to inspire future generations to reach to the skies and realize that all things are possible, even in the face of extreme adversity. 

The Tuskegee Red Tails monument is designed to inspire academic success in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, especially in aviation. With the understanding that diversity drives innovation, increasing the success of underrepresented and marginalized students in these fields is crucial in growing a STEM workforce that resembles the nation’s demographics at large.

The Tuskegee Red Tails statue stands in honor of the perseverance and success of the Tuskegee Airmen, and serves to recognize the vital contributions of Black Americans in United States history. The monument was funded by Syd Levy of United Trophy and dedicated by the City of Orlando, Orlando Science Center, and Vision of Flight, Inc.

The Red Tails Monument, a 12-foot bronze spire leading up to four P-51 Mustang aircrafts in the “missing man” formation.

Explore more Black history monuments around Central Florida

This is by no means an exhaustive list of important historical locations in and around Central Florida. From the Ocoee Massacre marker to the Mary McLeod Bethune Home in Daytona, the Mount Moriah Church in Port Orange and the Zora Neal Hurston Museum in Eatonville, explore more than 40 sites significant to Black history in Central Florida with this interactive map.

Hannibal Square

Officially founded in 1881, Hannibal Square originally consisted of African Americans who worked for the South Florida Railroad and Winter Park’s wealthy families. On Oct. 12, 1887, it became the site of one of the country’s earliest Civil Rights marches, when Gus Henderson led a group of Black residents across the town’s dividing railroad tracks to vote in the election that officially incorporated Winter Park, including Hannibal Square. What’s more, two Black residents were elected aldermen, serving from 1887 to 1893.

Hannibal Square in Winter Park

Tinker Field History Plaza 

The original field and buildings at Tinker Field were dedicated in 1923. Named for Joe Tinker, many Baseball Hall of Famers played here, including Jackie Robinson, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Harmon Killebrew.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his only speech in Central Florida, “Integration Now,” on the Tinker Field pitcher's mound less than a month before his death in 1964. 

a photo of Tinker Field baseball field and stadium

Wells’built Hotel

In 1926, Dr. Wells constructed a hotel that provided lodging to African Americans during segregation when hotel rooms were not available to them in other areas. Famous guests include Jackie Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and Justice Thurgood Marshall. The Wells’Built Museum of African American History is now located here, featuring memorabilia, artifacts, and a guest room with authentic furnishings of the 1930s. 

 

black history monument in central florida - Wells’Built Museum of African American History

Winter Sensory STEM Experiments

These winter sensory STEM experiments are perfect if the cold never bothered you anyway!

From ice cream to ice chalk, celebrate the winter solstice with some (literally) cool sensory STEM experiments. Join us as we explore the chemistry behind some ice-citing concoctions, learn a trick to make your friends think you can freeze time, and more! 


A frozen twist on a classic favorite, ice chalk is a fun way to take your sidewalk art game to the next level! 

Sidewalk chalk is cool but ice chalk is even cooler, literally! Start in the kitchen concocting your chalk paint-sicles, then, when they're ready, head outside and get to painting your pavement!

melted-ice-chalk-kids-sidewalk-activity

I scream, you scream, we all scream "SCIENCE" with this ice cream science project!

Feel the chill this winter as you learn the science of cold by making homemade ice cream! This vanilla or chocolate ice cream science project doesn’t require any fancy equipment, just plastic food storage bags, elbow grease, and chemistry!

Completed chocolate ice cream science project

What if we told you that you could freeze time with just a balloon, tape, and some water? 

We promise this isn’t CGI magic or a trick of the camera. What you are seeing is a particularly interesting fluid dynamic, which is a scientific way of saying the flow of a fluid (which is any liquid or gas), called laminar flow. 

Follow along with the video, or get the written steps below!

If it doesn't feel like winter, it can still sound like winter

When you think of winter, you probably think of cold temperatures, icicles, and snow. But many places around the world enjoy a tropical December - February. If you can't walk in a winter wonderland, you can at least make it sound like you are with this Foley art activity!

science of sound activity foot steps in the snow

For more engaging OSC at Home STEM activities, visit our blog! 

Homemade Gifts Inspired by Science

Add a genius personal touch by giving homemade gifts inspired by science! 

We all know that one person who is impossible to shop for. Ditch the plastic packaging, and try adding a personal touch to your gift-giving by trying one of these homemade gifts inspired by science! 

Not only will you be creating a one-of-a-kind project, but you'll learn a little and have a lot of fun in the process! 


You don't need to be Michelangelo to create these homemade works of art

Try an ancient art technique 

In this DIY Fresco art activity, we will be doing a modified version that kids of all ages can do at home!

Add some bubbles and bring your paintings to life

Using a little chemistry and creativity, add a unique texture to your art with baking soda paint! 


Homemade cards created with chemistry!

Creative cards

Using supplies you can find around the house, customize homemade greeting cards with this marbleized shaving cream technique. Just add calligraphy! 

Nailed it!

Here's a novel idea, add a stunning iridescent effect to any card, or create a custom bookmark. All you need is a few drops of clear nail polish! 


Reduce, reuse, UPcycle! 

Stitch outside the box

Give your clothes a second life by adding accents or embellishments. Get inspired with some of these embroidery ideas! 

Copy & Paint

Looking for an easy way to customize a t-shirt, tote bag, or even a pair of jeans? With this puffy paint technique, you have a chance to refine your design and keep yourself from suffering the agony of using puffy paint with a shaky hand.

DIY Tie-Dye 

Turn your avocado skins into a fashion statement! Learn how to extract tannin from the pit and skin of avocados to make your own fabric dye!  

5 Way To Go Green This Holiday Season

Check out 5 ways you can go green (and save some green) this holiday season! 

'Tis the season of red and green, but how green are you actually being? Americans create 25% more waste from Thanksgiving to New Year’s than any other time of year. That’s an extra 1 million tons of trash per week! Here are a few ways you can go green this holiday season without looking like the Grinch!

That’s a wrap on wrapping paper!

It’s a common misconception that wrapping paper can be recycled simply because it’s paper. However, coated, glittery, and textured paper materials cannot.

When these unrecyclable materials get mixed in with recyclable products, it can result in the whole lot being thrown away. Instead, try using paper materials like newspapers, old maps, comics, or make your own!

recycle wrapping paper to go green for the holiday

Out with the old and in with the new

When you upgrade to new tech, don’t just toss out your old devices, recycle them! A United Nations study reported that 44.7 million tons of e-waste was discarded in 2016, and only 20% of it was disposed of properly. Here are some easy ways you can recycle, or donate and make a difference:

  • Call2Recycle is a nationwide organization that recycles old devices and batteries. You can simply mail in old tech without leaving your house, or enter your zip code to find a convenient location near you!
  • Does your old phone still function? The World Computer Exchange is a nonprofit organization that works to get developing countries into the digital age. They accept everything from computers to graphing calculators.   

Sew what else can I do?

Handmade gifts are a great way to show someone how you feel without creating excess waste. From bath bombs to jewelry making, you can’t go wrong with a personal touch.

Upcycling is another great way to save the planet and a little money. Old board games are a great way to customize a picture frame. Or grab some old clothing and embroider an embellishment.

Visit our OSC at Home blog for inspiration, or check the daily schedule for maker activities like our Mosaics, Mobiles, Math! Workshops happening around the building on your next visit! 

hand made gifts to go green for the holiday

Last but not leftovers

According to the WorldWatch Institute, Americans generate three times as much food waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s as we do the rest of the year. Resolve to go green this year, by starting a compost! Are you a local? The City of Orlando will help you get started for free!

Composting is not as difficult or as disgusting as you might think! It can divert up 30% of food waste from a landfill and back into healing the Earth while offering a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers. Here is a simple step-by-step guide to creating your compost starting with the end of your Christmas tree!

Think outside the plastic box

Tired of giving gifts that will be outgrown or outdated in a few months? This holiday season, ditch the plastic packaging and gift an experience.

You can avoid creating excess waste by gifting tickets to movies or events, certificates for chores or date night, gift cards that can be reloaded and re-gifted, or gift a membership to a favorite theme park or science center!

Cool Reindeer Facts You Didn’t Know

Eenie meenie miney doe, how many reindeer facts do you know?

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall, the biology of them all? You’ve probably heard this song before, but have you heard the science behind Santa’s fluffy helpers?


A reindeer by any other name...

What exactly is a reindeer? These animals are part of the deer family, or Cervidae, which includes deer, elk, moose, and wapiti. Reindeer are also commonly known as caribou. This classification is primarily based on location, or habitat. Reindeer refers to the domesticated animal, while caribou refers to the wild animal.

an imgae comparing the size of reindeer, deer, elk, and moose

Female reindeer are slaying it!

Scientists have observed that male reindeer shed their antlers in early December after mating season, while female reindeer keep their antlers all year. This means that if the reindeer spotted pulling Santa’s sleigh on December 24 have antlers, they must be females, as males would have already shed their antlers.

The real red-nosed reindeer

You may remember Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and his shiny schnoz. Scientists say that having a rosy nose is not only possible but common in Santa’s furry friends. Reindeer have 25% more blood vessels in their nose than humans. This helps keep their noses warm, which allows them to warm up the frigid air before they breathe it in. Exposure to extreme cold, or exercise increases blood flow, and with so many extra blood vessels in their noses, they can turn a light rosy color.

a reindeer with a pink nose

Eye on the prize

Reindeer have also adapted to see ultraviolet light. While humans are no strangers to ultraviolet light, we are unable to see it. UV rays are commonly known to cause sunburn or snow blindness by reflecting brightly off of the white snow. Reindeer, however, have adapted the ability to see these wavelengths. This not only protects their eyes but allows them to better see food or other animals camouflaged in the snow.

The cold never bothered them anyway

Why does Santa have a reindeer-drawn sleigh instead of a horse-drawn carriage? Reindeer are native to cold climates like Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia and have adapted to the cold. A reindeer’s fur is made up of hollow hairs that trap in air and keep them well-insulated. They are also the only animal to have hair completely cover their noses. This helps warm up the cold air they breathe before it reaches their lungs.

a reindeer in a snowy forest

So next time you hear the pitter-patter of hooves on your roof, remember it’s no coincidence that Santa uses these gentle giants to pull his sleigh. Reindeer have adapted to weather their frosty environment and help deliver Christmas cheer all over the world!


Learn some more COOL science! 

How Native American Tribes Shaped Purple Martin Birds

 Learn how Native American tribes shaped Purple Martin birds and their nesting habits 

Did you know that Purple Martins famously don't build their own nests? You could almost call them people martins because they depend entirely on human-made nests to raise their chicks. 

It’s been documented that when indigenous peoples would hang out their gourds to dry, Purple Martins started nesting inside them. They left them hanging up in their villages for the birds to live in. To this day, Purple Martins are one of the only bird species to prefer human-made houses over natural ones. Using what we’ve learned about how Native American tribes shaped Purple Martin birds, we can better practice conservation efforts for migratory birds.

 

Disney’s Animals, Science, and Environment department built a specialized Purple Martin house for Orlando Science Center. Our high-rise, park-front condo features 22 different nests for new martin parents to raise their young (and it’s already furnished!) Our house is located in Loch Haven Park, just outside the 4Roots Cafe.

a group of kids looking a a purple martin nest at orlando science center

What Native tribes housed Purple Martins?

Martins are migratory birds. They spend the winter and fall in Brazil and make their way to Florida every spring! 

Florida is home to several tribes of Indigenous peoples. Each Native tribe is unique, and their people lived in different regions and spoke different languages.

Using the Native Land App on your Apple or Android device, you can find out what Native Land you currently live on. Orlando Science Center is located on Timucua land!

Learn about some of the most historically documented Native American tribes in Florida!

A map of florida showing Native American tribe territories
*It's important to note that this is not a complete list. Indigenous peoples lived in what is now known as Florida for more than 12,000 years before the time of first contact with Europeans.

The Seminole (Creek) tribes are well known for their beautiful woodcarvings, beadwork, and baskets.

The Choctaw tribes were known for their colorful clothing. The women typically wore multi-colored dresses or wrap-around skirts and the men wore colorful shirts made of woven fibers

The Timucua were known to have more permanent villages than the other tribes. Each family had their own home but the cooking took place in the village and meals were held daily in a central location

The Calusa are considered to be the first "shell collectors." Shells were discarded into large mounds. Unlike other Indian tribes, the Calusa did not make many pottery items

The Jeaga are hunter-gatherers who subsisted mostly on sea turtles and oysters, as well as conch, fish, deer, raccoon, manatee, alligator and shark. They also collected wild plants including coco palms, sea grapes and palmetto berries

The Tequesta used shells and sharks' teeth for a variety of tools. These included hammers, chisels, fishhooks, drinking cups, and spearheads. Sharks' teeth were used to carve out logs to make canoes

The Apalachees played a ball game that was a religious exercise as well as a sport. One village would challenge another to a match, and the two teams would have up to 100 players each. They used a hard clay ball about the size of a golf ball covered with buckskin. Players propelled the ball with their feet toward the goal post which was a pole topped with a stuffed eagle in a nest. They played the ball game in the spring and summer, and dedicated it to the gods of rain and thunder to ensure rain for their crops.

The Miccosukee historically are farming people. Miccosukee women did most of the farming, harvesting crops of corn, beans, and squash. Miccosukee men did most of the hunting and fishing, catching game such as deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, turtles, and alligators. Miccosukee included cornbread, soups, and stews in their meals

The Ais are one of many tribes, consisting of several hundred thousand people that lived in Florida prior to first contact with Ponce de Leon and the Spanish in 1513. The Ais tribes fished using hooks made from the toe bones of deer they had hunted, taking full advantage of the great catches available off the coast of Florida

Unique Reptiles at Orlando Science Center

You can meet these magically unique reptiles at Orlando Science Center! 

The fantastic beasts: prehensile-tailed skinks. Where to find them: NatureWorks

Say hello to our new and unique reptiles at Orlando Science Center — Gryffin, Puff, Raven, and Sly, four prehensile-tailed skinks who have found a new forever home.  

a skink on a stick with a gryffindor flag in the background
a momma skink on a stick with a ravenclaw flag in the background
a baby skink on a stick with a hufflepuff flag in the background
a skink on a stick with a slytherin flag in the background

They don’t have their own broomsticks yet, so they flew to us via airplane all the way from California. They were confiscated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in a wildlife trafficking incident. Their bewitching good looks make this species a popular target for the pet trade. Gryffin, Raven, and Sly were collected in the Solomon Islands (located north of Australia) and illegally brought into the United States before being found by wildlife authorities.  

Following their rescue, Raven gave birth to Puff!

These reptiles lay their eggs inside their body and the young hatch within the parent’s body. A group of skinks is called a circulus and all of the adults in the circulus help to raise the baby. Puff seems to prefer spending most of their time with Sly, the other adult female. We are especially excited to watch Puff grow into an adult skink! 

When the skinks were first rescued, they were underweight and fighting off a parasite infection. They have been under the care of our animal experts, and we are happy to report that our veterinarian now deems them to be in excellent health! We are honored to provide a forever home and quality care to these big lizards with a big story!  

two unique reptile skinks cuddling

How to Get Teens Interested in STEM at School

From hands-on experiences to museums and mentors, here are some tips on how to get interested in STEM in school

If you want to nurture your child’s interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), it’s important to go beyond the four walls of their classrooms. A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine revealed that only 22 percent of American high school graduates are knowledgeable in these particular subjects. In fact, the chair of the committee stated that students have limited learning experiences that are confined to reading textbooks, passive listening, and memorizing disconnected facts.

That said, the chances are that your teenager probably needs more opportunities if they are to become more interested STEM. So here are some tips that can encourage them to take most interest in STEM subjects:

Show how to apply STEM to real life

It’s hard for your child to gain an interest in STEM if they can’t see why it’s relevant to everyday life. STEM education can be pretty intensive, so the whole process can get a little overwhelming. Thus, it’s important that your child takes a step back and looks at how it is relevant to their day-to-day life.

Digital Learning emphasizes that students must also be given a chance to see the concepts come to life in a real, physical environment. Allowing them to see how robots or even statistical software are developed, which can boost their interest and their confidence in pursuing a career in STEM. The key here is to expose them to experiences that can help them understand its importance.

Provide hands-on learning experiences

Hands-on learning experiences are very important. STEM experiments and projects provide your child the opportunity to witness firsthand how cool STEM is as they get to deep dive into certain fields.

Education design consultant Karen Aronian looked at how chess incorporates math and logic, which allows kids to learn while also enjoying the challenge of playing board games. On the other hand, they can be introduced to electronics through online resources like Upverter, which is a free, web-based printed circuit board (PCB) design tool. Upverter is the educational and student-friendly version similar to the industry standard design platform Altium 365. Both platforms allow users to design, share, and manufacture electronics all in one place. Through these hands-on activities, your teen can gain first-hand experience in these academic fields.

Take them to exhibits and museums

Another great way to encourage an interest in STEM is by visiting exhibits and museums. These centers not only improve their knowledge regarding STEM subjects, but they can also pique their curiosity when it comes to certain subjects.

Orlando Science Center is a staunch advocate of STEM learning through museums and their exhibits. This is an avenue to introduce teens to new and exciting STEM concepts. For instance, the Flight Lab allows visitors to learn more about aviation through virtual reality simulators. 

Held annually at OSC, Otronicon Interactive Tech Convention has created a rich environment for active STEM learning through hands-on exhibits, tech demonstrations, industry-professional-led workshops and panels, gaming competitions, and much more, connecting Central Florida audiences to industry experts and innovative tech that is driving the future.

 

Connect your child to a mentor

The teachers in your teen’s school can be the key to igniting their interest in STEM. By connecting them to a mentor, it will enable them to receive career advice which will help them map out a career path in STEM. This is even more significant for girls who want to join male-dominated fields, such as engineering and computer science.

If your child has a good role model in their school, encourage your teen to interact and learn more from this specific teacher. STEM after school clubs are a great place to meet good mentors. They provide them with an opportunity to talk about their interests with like-minded students. This allows their ideas to flourish, further encouraging them to delve deeper with regard to STEM topics.

At the end of the day, your teen will be more interested in STEM if they have opportunities to learn more about the subjects they are interested in. As a parent, you provide support by broadening their exposure to professionals and real-life STEM applications.