Studies have shown that early exposure to mathematics and science lead to educational success in later years. When children are engaged in rich learning activities that foster key math, science and language skills in a fun and interactive way – sometimes not even being aware of how much they are learning in the process – the results can be magical. Since 1998, IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning Program has helped educators incorporate technology into early learning classrooms with innovative teaching activities that make learning fun. KidSmart helps teachers foster in young children a love of math, science, reading, and working collaboratively that will be essential to their continued success.
At the core of the KidSmart program is Young Explorer™ – a computer housed in brightly colored, child-friendly Little Tikes™ furniture, and equipped with award-winning educational software that helps children learn about and explore concepts in math, science, and language. IBM’s grant of 75 Young Explorers™ to Pre-K classrooms in Newark will help launch the city’s young children toward a successful educational experience. The $180,000 investment, which is being distributed by United Way, is part of IBM’s $4.3 million nationwide initiative to provide more than 1,700 Young Explorers™ and accompanying program materials to schools and nonprofit organizations that serve disadvantaged children.
Giving students a positive learning experience with STEM-related activities as early as possible helps lay a solid foundation for their future success. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs have grown three times faster than non-STEM opportunities over the last 10 years. With STEM proficiency, even workers without college degrees or high school diplomas will earn an average of 36 percent more than their non-STEM contemporaries. And throughout the current economic crisis – when unemployment rates have reached as high as 10 percent in the general population, and double that among historically underserved populations – joblessness among STEM workers has held steady at 5.3 percent. So when we look ahead at the labor market projections, it becomes clear that it’s never too early to begin our children’s instruction in science and math.