Gender and STEM: Engaging Boys With STEM Themes

Modern understanding of how kids learn has taught as a number of things, and one of these broad concepts involves the differences between boys and girls in how learning takes place. Keeping kids engaged in their studies, and particularly in STEM-related areas, will often be a differing process depending on which gender they belong to.

At Beehive Science & Technology Academy, we’re proud to offer the best STEM curriculum in Utah, and one of the best and most respected programs in the entire nation. In fact, we’ll be moving to a new campus later this year, and we’re taking on further enrollment! This two-part blog series will go over some general tips on engaging both genders with their STEM studies — today’s part one will focus on boys, while part two will go over girls.

gender STEM engaging boys

Why STEM Engagement Matters

In today’s world, STEM jobs are some of the most desirable and well-paid jobs available, and STEM degrees are among the highest earners within a bachelor’s degree classification. Keeping your children engaged and interested in a STEM curriculum is a great way to prepare them for future success.

In fact, many employers are actively seeking employees from a STEM background — these fields not only comprise the majority of today’s workforce, but also tomorrow’s workforce. In order to maintain competitiveness in our changing economy, it’s necessary that young people be educated in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math.

How Boys Learn Differently Than Girls

Boys often learn differently than girls do, even without taking into account the idea that some genders naturally prefer certain subjects or learning styles more than others. This seems to be more common in boys than it is in girls — while girls tend to prefer cooperative styles of learning, boys prefer competition. Some studies have even shown that boys learn best in an environment where the teacher is applying direct pressure to them, whether good or bad, but girls do better in a less stressful learning environment.

These are broad generalizations, of course — not every boy will respond well to competitive learning styles while also not responding well to pressure, and not every girl will prefer cooperative learning or respond well to pressure. However, these are generalizations that do hold true for many children.

Engaging Boys in STEM

Here are some general tips we can offer to parents on how to keep their male children engaged in STEM themes:

  • Hands-on/experimental learning: Young boys tend to respond well to hands-on and experimental learning, which is more appealing than sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher lecture about one thing or another. Many great STEM programs will involve kids in building things with their own hands, such as LEGO robotics kits that allow them to build real bots .
  • Real-world applications: Many boys also respond well to real-world applications of the information they’re learning, and by tying STEM themes and principles into everyday life. This can be as simple as explaining how a robot’s design is similar to that of an automated car assembly line or teaching them about the science or math involved in growing food for their favorite animals at the zoo.
  • Teamwork: While many boys do tend to prefer competition, teaching them the importance of teamwork is key to preparing kids for future career success. Many STEM classes will actively teach about teamwork through group projects or other hands-on activities where cooperation is necessary.

For more on how to keep young boys engaged and interested in STEM courses and themes, or to learn about any of our STEM charter school programs, speak to the staff at Beehive Science & Technology Academy today.

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