The future holds so many endless opportunities for our children, many made possible by new and exciting technologies. Whether it’s in community service, science, writing, arts, or engineering, technology has opened up so many new avenues for them to explore for future career opportunities. The problem is, the current school environment isn’t often set up to encourage critical thinking and exploration into STEM concepts. Sure kids can do experiments within a classroom, but more often than not, STEM education in a formal setting limits our children’s exposure to real life interactions with science, technology, and mathematics, leaving them disengaged and less likely to pursue them later on.

In contrast, homeschooling provides the perfect scenario for students and parents interested in more STEM learning. Homeschooled students are free to study the STEM concepts that interest them, are more able to go into the real world to see STEM in action, and can use technology that is often limited within schools. And this is as critical for our children’s futures as STEM is for the future. To better prepare our children for the real world and help them find a skill they love that they can turn into a career, parents need to find realistic alternatives to incorporate into their homeschool curriculum.

To get a better sense of how a hands on, STEM focused class can spark students’ interests and propel them down a promising career path, we spoke to Bridgeway student Kyle Shultz and his mom Melissa. We chose Kyle and his family because their story exemplified how a focused homeschool parent can take their child’s natural interest and craft into an individualized, engaging curriculum.

Kyle, who is currently in the fifth grade, has been a Bridgeway Homeschool Academy student since kindergarten. From a young age, Melissa noticed Kyle’s interest in building and drawing complicated structures. Being the awesome homeschooling mom that she is, she enrolled Kyle in Bridgeway’s Architecture with Brick Building live Student Learning Lab course. From day 1, he was hooked.

It wasn’t long before he was drawing architectural plans with his dad, recreating them with the LEGOs, and showing them off to the class. Kyle’s LEGO Architecture classes also used the popular toy K-NEX to demonstrate to students the inner workings of architecture and building planning. Kyle specifically used K-NEX to build circuit robots, windmills, carousels, and connecting structures.

Because he loved the Architecture Learning Lab so much, Melissa enrolled Kyle in the Robotics Learning Lab. The Robotics class is mostly geared toward science, with some engineering mixed in and consisted of hands-on work, which is popular in most STEM courses. Not only did he love the STEM concepts, Kyle also really enjoyed writing reports about his favorite robots.

When we spoke to Melissa, the best benefit to the STEM classes was Kyle’s interaction with students his own age and exploring his interest in science in a way that was beneficial to his future growth. Kyle on the other hand really liked exploring how architecture and robotics work, and was intensely interested in the inner circuitry involved. This made it more enjoyable for him to collaborate with his classmates.

“I like building circuits, understanding the way they work and how it all comes together. Miss Mars gave me opportunities to apply the science and engineering concepts I learned to build and get hands on with my work.”

His most valuable takeaway from the experience was his curiosity towards robots: how they’re made, how they tick, and all the little circuitry needed to make it do all those cool tricks.

“I learned that a whole team of people can spend a lot of time building a robot, and still have to make improvements.”

Like most fifth graders, Kyle isn’t sure about what he might want to pursue as a job some day. But, he is interested in circuitry and Bridgeway has helped him discover and learn more about that passion. Kyle’s fascination with robotics and circuitry goes far beyond just playing with LEGOS, K-NEX, and robots. He truly finds the subjects themselves to be interesting and wants to learn more. That’s what makes the combination of homeschooling and STEM education so powerful, the ability to unite interests and experience to create lifelong learners.

Curious how you can incorporate more STEM into your homeschool routine? We’ll be discussing tips and tricks for Homeschooling with STEM, so stay tuned to the blog!