The Engineers Of The Future
Engineering is a growing global sector. There is no doubt about it, we need engineers which means that we need the next generation to want to fulfil these roles. However, it is not something that jumps to the forefront of every child’s mind. Kids want to be YouTubers and footballers, teachers and vets, rarely do they say ‘engineer’ or an associated field. Whilst these career aspirations may change as children grow older, they rarely swing straight to engineering and in many cases, it is better to spark that interest earlier. This gives them the opportunity to develop a passion for their subject and to get their qualifications in the appropriate fields. Just how to go about this, how to encourage the engineers of the future, is what we want to talk about today as we suggest a few ideas to get kids interested in the subject from a young age.
Start them young
Children are naturally curious, so harness that curiosity from a young age and delve into every area and field with them.
We have all seen children take things apart just to see how they are made and how they work. We have all seen children conduct their own ‘experiments’ with ordinary household objects and we have all had children asking us dozens of questions about how things work, why they do things and what does what in this world. These are the moments to explore further with them. You do not need to know all of the answers, you just need to promise to work them out together.
At this age, making blanket forts, spending time in mud kitchens and conducting experiments in the home is all part of growing up and learning. It is also all serving to develop that engineering side of our children’s minds, so take the time to explore these worlds with them. Engage with them and help them to see that the everyday engineering that they are indulging in is fun.
Choose engineering toys and gifts
An engineering related toy or gift is always going to be hit on special occasions as they are always so hands on. They invite children to think for themselves and develop their own strategies.
Perhaps your child would enjoy K’NEX kits, giving them the opportunity to design and create their own moving vehicles and erecting buildings. Perhaps LEGO will get them thinking for themselves as they build and lose themselves in the task. Perhaps circuits will excite and fascinate them as they create their own circuits and experiments. Perhaps it will be a science experiment kit, a Sphero, a coding set, there really are endless possibilities here so tailor them to your child’s latest interests.
Any toy that gets your child thinking, building, experimenting and exploring scientifically will be stretching their mind and they should be sparking an interest in engineering. It will also be helping your child to view these subjects as fun and fascinating, something to explore further.
Encourage them to look behind the gaming
Many children enjoy their gaming and can spend hours upon hours every week playing on tablets, desktops and gaming consoles. There are video games out there designed to appeal to every interest, so hold onto that interest and encourage them to look behind the gaming.
Computer science is fast becoming a useful skill, so you will be helping your child enhance their prospects if you can get them into computer coding from a young age. It is an area that many children are only too happy to explore further and it will serve to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills.
There are plenty of apps and programs out there, such as Kodable and Scratch, that you can use to get them coding.
Find the role models
Children often respond well to having role models in their lives, people that they can look up to and aspire to be like. In many cases, these might be celebrities such as musicians, sports personalities and actors. Engineers are rarely as high profile as these celebrities, but it does not mean that they are not out there.
You could spend some time looking for the most prominent players in the fields that your children are currently most interested in. Find out more about them together, take a look into what they were like as children, what sparked their interest and what kinds of things that they did at school and at home to take their interests further.
Make the most of their mobile phones
Most kids and teenagers are fascinated by their mobile phones. They rarely leave their side and they are loaded with apps, from games to social media. As with video gaming, encourage them to look behind the scenes.
They might enjoy looking into app development services and combine their coding knowledge with app development to come up with something fun and original. Even if they lack the skill set at this stage to do this, get them thinking about what they would design if they could. This is a part of the process and you will be helping them to start thinking like an engineer.
Help them to be individuals
When your child finds their passion, but it is different to that of their friends, it can be hard for them to hold onto it. Their interests might not be cool enough right now, or their friends might be looking to take different classes.
Many fields within engineering can often fall into the ‘geek’ category. Whilst we as adults understand that it is often ‘geeks’ who rule the world, it can be hard to see it that way when you are a teenager. This is where you can support them to make the choices that are right for them and that play to their strengths and interests.
You can continue to fuel their passion for their subject whenever you spend time with them and you can support them to make the right choices for them when they narrow down their subjects at school and college.