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How Encouraging Your Child to Be a Storyteller could Cultivate His Empathy

kids playing

kids playing

We live in a world where some may say there is an overemphasis in academia and education public policy on STEM (Science Tech Engineering and Math) and where technology addiction is a thing, and  children are growing up lacking basic social skills. The tech part of children’s brains and lives do not necessarily cultivate or stimulate interpersonal development when it comes to human in-face interaction.

In fact, I know I am not alone among the many parents scrambling these days to figure out how to teach their children empathy.

I know there is not a day that goes by that I am not lecturing my children about the importance of exercising basic social decorum and practices. I want them to always say “excuse me” when they pass in front of someone, and to do  so audibly so the person hears. I want them to run to help when they see an elderly person struggling to open a door or carry a package. I want them to look people in the eyes when they have a conversation with them.  I want them to show interest in other people’s lives and days and their well being, and to do the minimum and ask others how is their day is going.

I know young people are ruled by the ego and that they are generally, self-centered and self-interested. But I know that it is possible for them to also  show interest in others at the same time.

Personally, I am at the point that I am not considering enrolling my three children into social etiquette classes because I figure, they may better respond to an instructor and instructional class setting where they can practice these habits with others in a controlled classroom environment.

I don’t know.

As I am considering this drastic approach, I was skimming through my copy of  The Formula: Unlocking the Secrets to Raising Highly Successful Children and noted one passage in the chapter called “Raising Storytellers: Cultivating The Power of Empathy“, where authors Ronald F. Ferguson and Tatsha Robertson, might have come up with one solution: storytelling.

They write that ” the act of storytelling – of imagining the lives of real people – stretches the brain.”

The two researchers posit that “storytellers have to come up with words their character will use, the ways they’ll move, and even their vocal inflections and emotions. They must imagine how characters will interact with one another and how one doe will affect what the others will do.”

In short, the authors state, “storytelling builds empathy: it teaches the storyteller how to put themselves in other people’s shoes, which in turn increases their ability to ‘read” (and respond to) others’ thoughts and feelings.”

Storytellers, they explain, have a highly developed “theory of the mind” – what scientists call the ability to anticipate how other people think.

So today, after your child comes home from school or wakes from a nap and you read them a story, ask them to tell YOU a story or tell you a story about what happened the other day or imagine what another friend is grappling through.

I will try though I highly doubt my older two will engage me, but I’ll try.

Good luck!

DC: Get Your Kids’ STEM On at This Weekend’s Science and Engineering Festival Expo

There are major initiatives worldwide, and especially in the United States to promoted STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Education among the youth. An absolutely wonderful and cost-free opportunity to get your little ones interests piqued is traveling the country and lands in Washington, DC this weekend.

The  5th USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo will go down at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this Saturday and Sunday, on April 7-8, 2018! It is the nation’s largest celebration of #STEM! #SciFest will host over 2 million square feet of hands-on science.



Founded by serial entrepreneur Larry Bock and Lockheed Martin executives to address the severe shortage in science and tech talent, the festival was developed to ignite the next generation’s interest in pursuing careers in science and engineering.

“Our nation’s future relies on encouraging more kids to go into STEM careers. By hosting the nation’s largest science festival, we are hoping to capture their imaginations by introducing them to science rock stars and engaging them in real science projects.” explained Marc Schulman, Festival executive director.

Your pre-school to college age children will get their chance to explore 3,000 hands-on exhibits from the world’s leading scientific and engineering societies, universities, government agencies, high-tech corporations and STEM organizations.

The two-day Expo is perfect for children, teens, and families who want to inspire their curious minds.

The event takes place from 10 am to 6pm on Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. Although it is free, pre-Registration to the Expo IS REQUIRED!

Register HERE!  DOWNLOAD the Stage Events HERE!

Click here to find out other cities that the Expo is coming to in the year.

 School groups, homeschoolers and military families can register for a Sneak Peek on Friday HERE!

Here are a few pics from past years:


All the Ways the Government, Innovative StartUps and Toy Companies are Elevating STEM Learning

It’s exciting to see more Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, initiatives, subscription boxes and other inventive and innovative products and services  cropping up and becoming widely available for boys and girls from infancy to college age and beyond.

If the United States is to compete globally, it is important that more children maintain an interest and comfortable familiarity with the hard sciences and math and its awesome that it is being incorporated in many ways, and even through something so traditional as Legos!

I mean, there are companies that are franchising LEGO® bricks, K’Nex and code building skills camps, workshops and classes that also provide hands-on, interactive activities for children ages 1-14.

It makes sense that those building toys are used to integrate fun and learning and especially given that building blocks are also essentials of coding. For this reason,  Snapology, for example, which offers birthday parties, courses for Scouts that want that Engineering badge, and Parents’ Night out days, can help make play fun and educational. You cannot beat that!

And STEM and building projects are a natural fit.

When my kids and I went to NASA Space Center‘s annual event for kids a little while back,  I noticed that the most popular and best- attended exhibit was the room featuring Lego experiments for the kids to partake in.

The government too recognizes the importance of increasing opportunities for children to get into STEM and therefore has a host of resources and initiatives for schools, educators and colleges and universities to explore on a Department of Education website. 

Innovators are maximizing on the push for STEM too. Every other week, I am contacted by a subscription box or toy company promising to develop your 2-year old into the next Mark Zuckerberg. No really! My 15-year old is testing out a box for Creation Crate and has a couple of boxes on the way.

And girls are not being left out either!

From Goldie Blox Odyssey-of-the-Mind building blocks for girls to Amazon.com’s entire STEM for Girls collection of toys, game and kids products manufacturers and innovators are realizing the for too long girls have been left out of the creative and building toy space.

It’s wonderful how parents are being pro-active by creating opportunities for their children to explore STEM projects, and are not waiting for school curricula to be built around the field.

I really love the concept of Snapology, especially the birthday parties they have for kids who love LEGOS. We are always looking for different things to do with winter babies who have to have indoor parties each year, and if you have a franchise near by, you have one more option to the usual trampoline and bouncy house gyms and laser tag parties. Fun!

STUDY: Girls Actually Do Better than Boys Using Tech for Problem Solving; Imagine That!

girls tech

Conventional thinking is that boys are better at tech than girls. However data from a recent study shows that eighth-grade girls outperformed boys in understanding and evaluating technology and using it to solve problems, according to Peggy Carr, National Center for Education Statistics acting commissioner said.

The new conclusions are from the first-ever Nation’s “Report Card for Technology and Engineering Literacy.” The test, administered in 2014 to about 21,500 eighth-grade students in public and private schools, assessed students using scenario-based tasks on a computer.

In one exercise, students had to troubleshoot to fix the habitat for a classroom iguana named Iggy. They had to learn about an iguana’s basic needs and then design a habitat that solved two of Iggy’s most pressing problems: a lack of adequate heat and dehydration. Overall, 43 percent of eighth-graders were considered proficient or better at answering questions that required them to think through problems systematically, using technology and engineering to complete a task. The results were that 45 percent of eighth-grade girls were considered proficient or better, compared to 42 percent of boys.

The findings should suggest that although the difference is nominal, we could go further with encouraging more girls to enter into #STEM fields if we quit starting with the presumption that girls aren’t good at it.

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Teen Invents stroller for Wheelchair-bound New Moms (VIDEO)

A Detroit high school student has invented a stroller for wheelchair bound moms who want to take their babies for a walk.

Alden Kane, a student at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, created a custom adaptable stroller as part of his STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) class.

The inventive teen said it took 6 months of planning and 6 months of construction to build a prototype. He gifted it to a local mother Sharina Jones, who had just had a baby and wanted to take her  son out on nice days.

“A lot of my friends have babies and they are out, running with their babies in the stroller and I thought, ‘What am I going to do?'” she told FOX 2.

Kane consulted with Jones during her pregnancy and before she gave birth.  He worked hard to complete the project before Jones’ July due date.

“The biggest priority is to make it safe for baby, of course,” Kane told the news outlet. “And then, also you really want to make it independent for the mother.”

In the end, Kane used lightweight metal tubing that easily clips onto the wheelchair and safely holds the weight of a baby in a car seat.  Given the success of his prototype, Kane says he hopes to make the device accessible to more people.

Kane says he hopes to eventually apply for a patent for his invention.

h/t HuffPo

PBSKids show ‘SciGirls’ encourages STEM interest among girls

Traditionally, boys are encouraged more by teachers and society to pursue science and math fields, and consequently they excel in them and today careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)  are overwhelmingly male. Girls are geared towards humanities, which usually pays less than STEM jobs, which contributes to the overall gender pay gap. It’s all cyclical if you think about it.
There has been a movement in recent years to reverse that trend and get more girls to explore STEM subjects and stick with them through middle school, high school and college when interests wanes.
Shows like SciGirls which airs on PBS Kids are helping to encourage more girls to retain interest in those subjects. The Emmy Award-winning series will launch its third season this April.  
The diverse middle-school- aged STEM adventurers that star in the show do things like track toads, count clouds and much more, all in the name of citizen science.  The activities captured during this season encourages kids to observe and record data about everything around them and where ever they go: from birds to beaches, monarch butterflies to maple trees. The data is then shared with scientists, who use it to generate new scientific knowledge. 
“Collaboration is the key to successful citizen science,” said SciGirls executive producer Richard Hudson. “Since SciGirls’ beginning, working together—making discoveries, mistakes and friends—is one of the important research-based methods we use to engage girls around STEM. 
“This new season underscores the importance of collaboration within the scientific research community and workforce. SciGirls is fortunate to have powerful partners advising us about citizen science, including the University of Cornell Department of Ornithology, NASA and FrogWatch USA.
Good stuff! My girl will be watching! 

(Check Local Listings for channel and showtimes) or Watch Online

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The Gender Pay Inequity: SAHMs and Women working in Arts v. STEM are the Cause (INFOGRAPHIC)

In the United States, we always hear feminists, women advocates and some politicians quote a US Department of Labor statistics which states that women earn $.77 for every dollar a man makes. Well the folks at TopManagementDegrees.com attempt to peel back the onion on this common enunciated stat and offer some of the reasons for the disparity that may have nothing to do with true pay inequity. 
In sum, it notes that more men, generally and nationally work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) such as doctors, as IT techs, as nuclear engineers, etc, for example.  Those jobs, on average, pay more money that the fields where women work more of in concentrated levels like teaching, the arts, counseling and social work.

Also, it notes, that more women are likely to be stay home moms and more women do not return to work after having a baby or return on a part time basis which pays less than full time.

There are private employers, most likely who would pay women and men differently based on their gender, no doubt. However, when you crunch all these numbers and stats, the reason for the difference isn’t always necessarily because employers women are being discriminating against  in any given field.  The law of averages don’t come out in favor of of women when you factor in more information into the formula.

In other words, the devil is in the details.
What do you think? Check out the infographic and comment below!

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