Across the globe, our new normal has shifted our homes into classrooms, offices, gyms and everything in between. Parents are working while simultaneously serving as teachers, and many are relentlessly searching for activities that are educational, engaging and fun — all to excite curious young minds.

From the lights that power our homes to the water we drink, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — is all around us. It’s a key component in innovation, which helps build our most critical infrastructure systems, spur economic growth and position our communities for the future.

Every day, we read statistics alluding to the key role STEM workers play in our U.S. economy and the ever-increasing demand for STEM jobs, now and in the future. Here are a few statistics that I’ve recently come across:

  • Jobs requiring STEM skills are growing at seven times the rate of non-STEM jobs.
  • Those with STEM jobs earn 26% higher wages than those in other jobs.
  • The top 10 majors with the highest median earnings are all STEM fields.
  • While just 5% of U.S. workers hold jobs in STEM-related fields, they are responsible for more than 50% of our sustained economic growth.

As parents, teachers, family members and friends of our youth, you might be wondering, “How might I create a passion for STEM among kids and help inspire the next generation of leaders?”

I encourage you to take a look at our Burns & McDonnell STEM resources page, where you can find a sortable series of personal stories and lessons to help kids recognize and embrace the possibilities of STEM through free activities, how-to videos and more. Among them:

  • Incredible Edible Landfill. Understand how high-tech landfills are designed. This tasty activity uses kid-friendly foods to demonstrate each layer’s purpose and encourages kids to think about where trash ends up.
  • Taste of Mother Nature. Learn the science of elements, metals and magnetism by exploring what your breakfast cereal has in common with the Earth’s crust.
  • Static Electricity. Use balloons to discover the strength and limitations of static electricity and its ability to move objects.
  • Water Filter Fun. Explore the basis concepts behind a water filtration system, which plays a significant role in producing cleaner water.

Getting our youth excited about STEM is essential to building a brighter future for all of us. Showing kids how STEM topics fit into the real world and real careers can give them the tools to embrace this vital message.


Check out a range of STEM activities and tutorials designed to engage students of all ages.

Visit Our STEM Resources Page

Julee Koncak is director of the Burns & McDonnell Foundation, which strives to empower communities to become healthy and strong, with a strategic focus on inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals.