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EARLY YEARS: Getting kids stoked about STEM

College professor Christopher Emdin just released a new book with teaching tips for parents and teachers
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:17 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - College professor Christopher Emdin has also taught middle school math and science, along with high school physics and chemistry.

He’s traveled the country to see how kids are doing in STEM subjects, calling his findings heartbreaking.

“That these subjects, that young people are innately gifted at that, are so creative, an imagination about when they’re out in the world beyond the classroom, all of a sudden when they get inside the classroom, or when they are in school, when it comes to taking that test or pursuing the higher class, or taking an AP class, just taking that leap to do well in science or math, in after-school programs, they say no,” says Emdin.

One big reason, according to Emdin, is how STEM is taught in schools.

“Poor instruction in science and math can really cause young folks to be traumatized and not see themselves as mathematicians and scientists,” says Emdin.

Emdin says he’s on a crusade to do things differently, working to help teachers and parents.

“To really help them to re-engage their children in the natural science and math abilities they have when they were babies, the questions they asked and the curiosity in their eyes when they played,” says Emdin.

His most recent book, titled “STEM, STEAM, Make, Dream: Reimagining the Culture of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” is a guide for teachers and parents.

Emdin encourages teachers to offer students positive reinforcement, and a chance to give them feedback on their teaching. And he says math and science can be blended with other subjects like English and History to make them more appealing.

His message to students-- getting everything right every time isn’t the formula for success.

“The more that young people get normalized that their missteps or failures or stumbles are actually part of what is required to do well, the more they start constructing an identity around science and math, says Emdin.

Activities like cooking can provide hands-on math lessons at home.

Most importantly, Emdin says parents should provide affirmation, encouraging their kids to believe in themselves.

“We can never under-focus upon what it means when a young person has an adult in their lives that they love and trust tell them that they can,” says Emdin.

He is also the founder of HipHopEd.com, which highlights how music can also be a great teaching tool for math and science.

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