STEM has to seem "cool" for kids to be good at it.
A common refrain is that STEM needs to seem exciting to pull kids in. However, there is a case to be made for putting children through the uncool basics of math and science before getting to the rocket science, said Nina Rees, president and CEO for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
When she sees students from countries like India or China who excel at math and science, Rees told conference attendees that she wonders, "Were they just forced to kind of learn and appreciate the fact that after learning these subject areas they'd be able to do the cool things?"
The answer may be yes, meaning that teaching young students about STEM subjects may involve instilling in them the patience to get through their multiplication tables before they get to start computer programming.