Cincinnati STEM Education

If you’re currently raising school-aged kids, you’ve probably been hearing about the importance of STEM education. Read on to learn why this new trend is taking off and how your kids can get in on the action.

The “what” and “why” of STEM 

The abbreviation “STEM” refers to four subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some programs may modify the “STEM” acronym to suit their specific needs, for example STEAM programs include “A” for art or sometimes agriculture. Alicia Miller, Owner of Sylvan Learning of Cincinnati, believes the STEM trend in education reflects the country’s need for workers in these professions. “According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), STEM occupations are among the fastest growing fields in our economy.” In addition, the demand for strong STEM skills extends far beyond traditional STEM fields. “Virtually every industry has a demand for workers who have high levels of STEM competencies,” Miller says.

While elementary school students aren’t thinking about career paths yet, the push to introduce  STEM programming early on comes with the hope that these types of activities will spark, and keep, kids’ interest. According to the National Center for STEM Elementary Education, 1/3 of students have lost interest in science by the time they reach 4th grade.  By 8th grade, nearly 1/2 of students have lost interest in science or decided it is irrelevant to their education/future plans. In short, Miller says, “If you wait until middle school or high school to introduce your child to STEM, [it] may be too late to capture their interest.”

What to look for in a STEM program

Today’s parents may feel like they see the STEM label everywhere they look. But what are the hallmarks of a high quality STEM program or activity? It’s more than just enrolling in a math or science class. Miller says hands-on activities and collaborative exercises are best. When kids are empowered to work on projects that excite them, their interest levels go up.

“Watch your child’s eyes light up as [she] learns how to build a bridge that actually supports weight or a robot that moves based on [her] commands,” says Miller. “When they realize what they can do, that self-confidence hopefully carries them forward in their learning journey. They’ll never look at a bridge or robot the same way again.”

Local opportunities

Are you convinced of the value of STEM education? You don’t have to go far to find a great program or activity for your child. Start by investigating these Cincinnati area options:

*Check in with your child’s school. They may already offer classes, clubs or events focused on STEM education that your child can participate in.

*Plan a museum day. Visit The Cincinnati Museum Center’s special exhibit “The Art of the Brick,” now through May 1st. Kids can view more than 100 Lego masterpieces, then design their own in interactive “Brickopolis.” Or, sign your child up for a Lego Spring Break camp. Daily themes include “Minecraft,” “Robots,” and “Star Wars.” Find complete details at

*Register for a class. Sylvan Learning of Cincinnati offers STEM programs for 1st through 5th graders in robotics, coding and more. Classes meet at after school, on weekends and during the summer at locations in Anderson, Crestview Hills, Northgate and West Chester.

*Get competitive. Is your child ready to show off his STEM skills? iSPACE, a non-profit serving the Greater Cincinnati area, hosts FIRST Robotics programs for kids ages 6 through 18. Middle and high schoolers might also consider joining a Science Olympiad team to compete in events ranging from “Disease Detective” to “Bridge Building.” Visit to learn more.

*Make time for play. With the appropriate toys, your child can develop STEM skills right at home. If you’re not sure what to buy, Project Lead the Way releases an annual list of “Super STEM Gifts.” Past suggestions have included Magna-Tiles, GoldieBlox sets and robotics kits. Look for the current list at

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