In March, I had the honor and pleasure of hosting the 6th Annual STEAM showcase. We had over 240 students participating, representing every public school in Milpitas and every grade level from kindergarten through high school. The projects on hand involved robots, software, art, and even the science of arcade games. The event was meant to inspire interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), but it was also thrown in the hopes that the kids would be further inspired in a general way.
Over 700 people (students, parents, teachers, MUSD administration, city leaders, and community members) came to this event to cheer on the participants. As medals of participation were presented to each and every exhibitor, their pride, enthusiasm, and sense of accomplishment were on clear display. And after talking to a few participants and seeing the sparkle in their eyes, I knew that we had succeeded in our goal of inspiring the students.
But, events like these are not the only way that we can inspire our kids. Not everything must be tied to STEAM. There are plenty of opportunities in our daily lives to explore and ignite our kids’ passions. Too many times, I have heard from parents that their kids don’t know what they like or want to do. But, therein lies the opportunity: Parents can seize upon their kids’ indecision, encouraging them to explore. Take the time to talk to your kids and find out what excites them…The truth is, we are surrounded by fascinating subjects and areas in which to learn…
For example, in the last few years, we have heard the term “fake news.” How do we learn to critically examine what is reported to us and make reasonable judgments about it? How does good journalism protect our democracy? How do we make sure we don’t let fear decide who we are or want to be?
Or, for those who’ve felt the need to highlight the issue of guns and safety at school, what can be done in that arena? Have we explored all sides of this complex issue (mental health, access, constitutional law, the rights of citizens)? Is there a proactive, preventive solution available to us?
Or, perhaps we can explore the economics and dynamics underlying the fact that we live in the 5th largest economy in the world, yet are 41st in the United States when it comes to investing in our future through education. What constraints impact how we fund our schools? Why is it that, as a nation, we are falling behind in innovation, and how will that someday impact our standard of living? And come to think of it: Why don’t we honor our teachers on the same level as other professionals?
Other issues abound: the impact of global warming, sustainability, finding balance in today’s world of devices, social media, the strength in diversity…Or, local issues such as traffic and housing…All are good sources of interest and excitement.
The point is that kids have endless opportunities to explore new interests and passions. We just need to divert their attention away from their games and their digital social scene and toward the greater community and the world.
So, whether you’re a lawnmower parent, a tiger parent, an elephant parent, a helicopter parent, a dolphin parent, an attachment parent, or a free range parent, let’s take some time to inspire our kids.
And, who knows? They may be able to positively change the world.
P.S. — I need to give a shout-out and big thanks to the STEAM Showcase team — Karen, Brenda, Chin, Kimi, and Yolie — as well as acknowledge the awesome support of the San Jose City College-Milpitas Extension, led by Michael Mooney and his team. I also want to thank the sponsors: Excel Test, Logosetc, MUSD, and MCEE. Without them, we would not have been able to make the 6th Annual STEAM showcase such a huge success.