Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.
"I'm not a science person."
I've been saying this about myself since high school, and it seems that I'm not the only one: And it's all too true: research has shown that as a nation, the United States is woefully behind our peers in terms of math and science skills.
It's not our fault, though... right? What if we just don't have a natural aptitude for science, technology, engineering and math, better known as STEM? Personally, I've never gravitated toward science, and I've always bought into the general consensus that appreciation for subjects like science and math is something that you're born with.
Turns out, that's not the case.
What we know is that early exposure to these subjects -- regardless of race, income or parents' highest level of education -- is linked to future success. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Evidence is mounting about the importance of teaching math in preschool and kindergarten; [without it], they are more likely to struggle later when they face more complicated concepts."
But here's a secret: STEM concepts are ready to be discovered in everyday moments and activities. And even more importantly, these STEM discoveries can be fun and enjoyable for adults and kids alike.
That's why Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has created Little Discoverers: Big Fun with Science, Math and More for preschool-aged children. The new digital destination features:
· Interactive Sesame Street games that provide children with opportunities to explore STEM concepts
· Sesame Street video segments starring characters like Elmo and Abby Cadabby to build background knowledge and excite children about STEM
· Fun hands-on activities that kids and grown-ups can do together to demonstrate STEM learning in real life
STEM is, in essence, learning about the world around us through play and discovery, which is something that every child -- and every parent -- can get excited about. Bath time is an opportunity to discuss density and gravity by testing whether objects sink or float. Creating a ramp out of paper towel rolls can demonstrate force and motion. Building a structure with wooden blocks can help children understand the concept of engineering. And when Elmo is involved, it's that much easier to get kids, and adults like me excited about these concepts.
Kids are all natural discoverers, and at Sesame Workshop we seek to bring this curiosity out in children everywhere. While kids may not all grow up to be scientists and engineers, highlighting the fun in STEM helps to build on their innate tendencies to explore and experiment. And by doing this, we can help to raise a generation of kids who feel empowered by science, technology, engineering and math rather than be daunted by the subjects.
Little Discoverers was made possible with major support from CA Technologies and generous support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation.