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The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector is crucial for protecting the planet and ensuring more of us survive and thrive.

STEM is a cross-cutting field that includes subjects as diverse as eco-conscious architecture and quantum mechanics — and touches most aspects of life on earth.

But we’re struggling to develop enough workers with requisite skills — so there’s a global push to raise awareness and plug the gap.

If you’re invested in futureproofing the economy, here are three ways children are strengthening the STEM sector.

Apps

As mobile phone use continues to rise, STEM apps are a practical and entertaining way to bring technical subjects alive for students and teachers alike.

Lesson-planner app Prepmagic is a fine example — by exposing students to curriculum-aligned science simulations that bring them as close as possible to real-life phenomena, it connects visuals with vital data in innovative new ways.

Teachers can edit simulations with their own pointers and notes, emphasising crucial learning points so that students have a better chance of absorbing and recalling them.

So seeing a pyroclastic flow or the development of genetic mutations in this dynamic format is more powerful than staring at a book or diagram.

Lab suppliers like King Scientific can still ensure schools are stocked up with traditional tools like test tubes and PH meters — but apps allow learners to experience events that it’s impossible to recreate in the classroom.

Toys

Educators and parents can help even younger children catch the STEM bug with tech-enabled toys like Bloxels.

It’s basically a physical pixel board with an associated app that children can use to create their own video games.

Kids combine their creative skills with basic coding to design characters, room layouts, obstacles and story plots — resulting in a finished game they can play with friends.

And it can be used as an educational resource for teachers too — classmates can collaborate by creating a game based on the Egyptian pyramids or iconic engineering projects.

If children learn about the fun side of STEM from an early age, they’re more likely to stay inspired by the subject as they get older.

Private sector

In any nation, there are limits on the public purse when it comes to paying for STEM education.

So it’s encouraging that global consulting firm PwC has recently invested $320 million in a scheme that will teach STEM skills to 10 million students from underserved communities across the US in the next 10 years.

The US skills gap in the sector means one million job roles will go unfilled in 2020 — but if more private sector organisations step in to pick up the slack, the situation will be remedied more rapidly.

By training teachers in subjects like robotics and AI, and making curricula free and open-source, expert education will become more accessible than ever.

These three ways children are strengthening the STEM sector suggest that kids from all types of backgrounds will be driving innovations in the future.

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