K12 to STEM Career
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All posts by Iftikhar Khan

Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes Book Review

Klutz book of paper airplanes

In fifth grade, elementary students learn about the scientific method including developing a hypothesis, testing using a controlled process and then publishing a conclusion derived from data and analysis. All this is entirely academic until the kids have to perform their science experiment and present their learnings at the science fair. Since Rizwan is halfway through fifth grade, he spent most of this week working on this project.

For his science fair project, Rizwan chose the classic "Paper Airplanes," where students learn about the forces that cause paper airplanes to fly and hypothesize which type of paper airplane will fly the furthest.

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What is Hour of Code and how is Apple involved?

Kids at Apple Retail Store playing with robot

If I told you that you could sign your kid up right now for an Apple Retail class that taught your kid how to program Star Wars robots, would you believe me?  Better yet, what if I confirmed it was free!

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5 ways to prepare kindergarten students for careers in STEM

Little girl is behind the desk. Microscope and the tree are near her. Little robot. E-learning. Stem education

In an earlier post, I summarized the concepts of STEM & STEAM, including why it is so important that we instill these skills into our kids. 14 of the 15 highest paying jobs in America are STEM-centered jobs.

Assuming that you are bought into the what & why of STEM, let us get active in applying these concepts in our daily lives. Today's post will focus on how we can start using STEAM & STEM concepts when your child enters kindergarten.

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Sesame Street STEAM videos to watch with your child

In my previous post, I listed seven practical things you can do today to help your pre-kindergarten child learn the foundational concepts of STEAM & STEM.  One of those activities was watching Sesame Street STEM & STEAM videos with your child.  In today's post, I've included a collection of videos that are entertaining and educational ways for you to introduce these disciplines to your children.

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7 ways to teach STEAM Educational concepts to your kids prior to kindergarten?

young child in classroom

In my previous post, I summarized the concepts of STEM & STEAM, including why it is so critical that we instill these skills into our kids.  Not just for their financial benefit, but the greater societies' benefit too.  Now that you are bought into the what & why of STEAM, let us get active in applying these concepts in our daily lives.  Today's post will focus on how we can start applying STEAM & STEM concepts in the first five years of your child's life..

#1.  Encourage outdoor play

family playing outdoors

There is a reason why I put this first.  It is effortless in today's hyper-competitive world for parents to overschedule and overstress our kids with activities, lessons & experiences.  I'm guilty of it myself, and often Rabia has to intervene when I ask my kids for another journal entry or Khan Academy session.  I  plan to write a focused article on this topic in the future, but for now, take your kid out back and enjoy the backyard or your local park.

For the first thirty minutes, sit back and watch your kid's imagination come to life.  It is marvelous to see how much joy a child can get from playing outdoors.  While it may not be visible, they are learning here too.  They are learning to play with others, share, wait their turn, and make decisions on how much risk they want to take.

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Why STEAM & STEM Education is crucial for fostering innovation?

Girl scientist experimenting in front of STEM poster

What is STEAM / STEM Education?

STEAM is an evolution of the STEM Education movement, a 21st-century idea designed to develop our children to be ready for the jobs of the future.  The acronym STEM stands for science, technology, engineering & math.  Instead of memorizing facts and figures, STEM education promotes students engagement with the real world, through experiences, experiments, and projects.  Often, instead of individual work, students practice collaborating in group activities.  Students observe their environment, assess the situation, brainstorm & hypothesize potential solutions, experiment, and work together to solve problems.

Recently there has been a debate in the education community on whether STEM education is enough to enable innovation.  Some influential voices have suggested “STEAM” vs. “STEM” by adding “Art” as the fifth discipline needed for a well-rounded education.  Later in the article, I’ll examine this debate in more detail.

 

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How to implement a children allowance that reinforces your core values & behaviors

If you’ve read my older posts, you know I love to read.  I’m regularly reading blogs, books, and listening to podcasts.  I’m not great with money, so on occasion, I’ll include personal finance advice into the reading rotation.  One topic that you’ll regularly encounter in these finance or parenting magazines is this debate about whether to give your child an allowance and the best tips for doing so.  Most financial experts recommend giving an allowance, but there is an active debate on how to implement.  Do you pay your kid for doing chores?  Do you pay for getting good grades?  Behavior?  Or should you give allowance with no strings attached?  Just like you, I’ve felt a little bit lost when considering what type of approach I wanted to take with my kids.

In this article, I list out the pros & cons for a variety of options and share the approach that works for my family.  I’ll walk you through our journey and explain why we chose the method we did.  This is not scientific.  There is surprisingly little research on this topic – if you find some analysis or study that I missed, please comment below so we can all benefit!  I’ll also share differing points of view, so you can make a fully informed decision on what you think the best approach is.  I’ll then walk you through the practical step on “how to” implement our system, with a particular call to action so you can start this process today!

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“Explore the Human Body” – A Book Review

Recently our good friend, Mya and Yaniv bought Khadija the book, Explore the Human Body, by Luann Colombo.  Every day since, Khadija and I read one or two paragraphs, dramatically increasing both of our knowledge about the human body.  This is a fantastic book for anyone interested in human biology.  It is so detailed and comprehensive that often I have to simultaneously google specific words to fully understand what we’re learning.  One trivia point I learned today is that the lower jaw (called the mandible) is the only part of the skull that can move.  Try moving your upper jaw right now.  You can’t!

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Earning a Home Scientist badge with Girls Scouts at the Tech Museum

Girl Scout earning her home scientist badge

This weekend we took advantage of a very cool partnership program between the Girl Scouts & the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.  Khadija earned her Home Scientist badge with the Girl Scouts by participating in a three-hour science lab where she learned about static electricity, density, and how to blow up a balloon without using her breath (hint: baking soda).  She also got to make and eat ice cream, and create her own silly putty.

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Why our kids spend their summers studying abroad

Kids studying abroad
“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” — Benjamin Disraeli

A missed opportunity

Back in the late 90’s, Michigan State University was a pioneer with its Study Abroad program.  For essentially the same price as tuition, students had the opportunity to take classes and experience life in a different country.  I should have taken advantage, but ultimately didn’t, for not great reasons.  I had a great summer internship at GE Medical Systems, which meant I’d have to study abroad in the fall or spring.  I was having such a good time in college, that the thought of being away from campus made me concerned I would miss out.  Stupid!  I especially regretted it when two very close friends took advantage, by studying abroad in London, and then moving onto Ireland.  The stories, experiences, and new friendships they made in that short span of time were clearly transformative.  I was happy for them (and a bit jealous).

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