Every kid dreams about going to Space Camp. One of our very own big kids, Christina, aspired to go to Space Camp throughout her childhood but did not have the chance, and her relationship with NASA has never been the same since (although we really love NASA).
Luckily for this generation of kids, they can have all the fun of Space Camp from the comfort of their homes or classrooms, thanks to a new opportunity called “Generation Beyond.”
Generation Beyond is the product of a partnership between Discovery Education’s and Lockheed Martin that aims to encourage and excite kids about the possibility of STEM careers through a school-to-home program exploring space, aeronautics and technology. As supporters of the importance of STEM-based learning, we love seeing organizations take initiative to further educate our kids about the final frontier.
With programs like Generation Beyond, applicable math and science lesson plans are now more accessible than ever before. To celebrate their launch, the project will even hold a “virtual field trip” that kids can stream live from the Lockheed Martin Spacecraft Operations Simulation Center. Children can have the chance to ask questions to real-life design engineers, learn about deep space exploration and talk with the alleged “world’s largest robot.”
Generation Beyond serves as just one example of the rising prevalence of STEM content in the U.S. The United States Department of Education has predicted STEM jobs to grow anywhere from 16% to 62% by the year 2020, compared to a mere 14% growth estimate for occupations overall.
However, our education system still faces a serious lack of emphasis on science and mathematics. 100kin10, a network of over 200 partners dedicated to equipping educators and organizations to effectively teach STEM concepts to today’s youth, listed the inadequate preparation of teachers to properly educate their students about STEM as one of the primary challenges we face in bettering STEM education in America.
To put it briefly: an increase in STEM careers but inadequate STEM education system means little opportunity for our children to fill those jobs.
At PopUp Play, we work tirelessly to solve this issue by allowing kids to engineer their own playscapes and stretch their imaginations in ways they may not have used them before. Even before children reach schooling age, they have had exposure to technological and engineering thinking, equipping them for whatever STEM endeavours they embark on in the future–be that in school or the industry beyond. What children are exposed to from a young age can truly craft a life-long interest.
We’re not alone, though. More and more, organizations are taking initiative to expand STEM education to all of America’s youth. While we pose the possibility of achieving this through hands-on learning, such as the engineering of your own playhouse, other initiatives like Generation Beyond offer a solution through a classroom with an effective lesson plan.
The site offers free downloadable resources for educators and parents alike, ranging from family activities like designing and launching your very own Orion spacecraft to full lesson plans detailing the challenges and value of space exploration.
Good for classrooms, homeschool or just curious kids and parents, we share a common goal with Generation Beyond in the desire to significantly change the way our kids think about STEM. We have the opportunity to spark a curiosity in our children’s minds about far-off concepts like space exploration and those closer to home, such as the engineering behind their own toys. Sparking this curiosity from a young age could just lead to our next generation of great scientists, technologists and engineers.