Top STEM Programs for Kids in 2023

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Technology has always disrupted, and the changes it brings upon us represent an obvious, major shift in the traditional workplace. Those who pay close attention to the trends are the ones who will not only be best suited to survive when things play out, but to thrive as well.

And this was actually written before ChatGPT was a thing! 

To prepare for the future, we need to understand where the jobs are now, yes, but importantly, where they will be—and the skills that will be needed to fill them.

Well hello, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

But when we talk about the importance of STEM and the associated skills and careers, it's valuable to keep in mind there is more to it. Sure there is plenty of coding talk, but other areas too, like problem solving and critical thinking.

Given all of this, what better place for kids to start future-proofing themselves than by attending a STEM program?

Top STEM Programs

Studies show that success in any endeavor is significantly increased by sharing your goal with others. Having someone in "your corner" along the way holds you accountable, but it's also motivating to have someone rooting right alongside. 

STEM programs have that. 

Not to mention that finding a good mentor and learning with likeminded peers is an ideal way for kids and teens to not only communicate their goals, but to lock-in to a support system to keep them going. 

Coding, data science, robotics engineering, and more. There is a STEM program out there right now for kids who are ready to jump in, with expert mentors to guide, and new friends to help push.

Let's take a look at what's available. 

1. Mission to Mars: Space Flight with Kerbal

Ages: 10-12
Tools: Kerbal Space Program
Concepts: Rocket Science, Robotics 
Learn more: Kerbal Space Program
Get Started: Program Info

The planet Kerbin and its' expansive surrounding universe is your child's new playground! They can learn to create and launch rockets and shuttles, learn how to leave the atmosphere and change orbits, and also land on the "Mun"!

They will pick up a variety of skills involving simulating space launches and rocket physics along the way, and eventually use them to adventure out on their own exciting Space Missions!

2. BattleBots with VEX Robotics

Ages: 10-12
Tools: VEX Robotics
Concepts: Robotics, Coding
Learn more: BattleBots
Get Started: BattleBots Camp

If you haven't heard (somehow) BattleBots is a high-octane robot fighting show with more than 20 years of runtime under its belt! In this STEM program, kids can learn what it takes to design and build a robot that makes it on the show—think they have what it takes?

They'll form small teams and design their own mechanical monsters. The rules, field, and judging criteria will be up to them, and at the end of the week, creations will go head-to-head in the ultimate robot showdown!

3. 3D Printing & Modeling

Ages: 10-12
Tools: Blender, 3D Printer
Concepts: Creative, 3D Modeling
Learn more: 3D Printing for Kids
Get Started: Program Info

Throughout this STEM program, kids can learn how to make their own 3D models in Blender. From there, they'll learn how to use, troubleshoot, and manage a 3D printer to print out unique and cool designs!

Takeaways include making 3D models, safely and respectfully operating a 3D printer, and printing and sculpting their own models and bringing them to real life!

4. VR Design with Unity and Meta Quest 2

Ages: 13-17
Tools: Unity, Meta Quest 2
Concepts: Coding, Game Dev
Learn more:
Get Started: Program Info

Yes, kids can learn to develop a 3D virtual reality game! How? In Unity using C# through a combination of interactive, instructor-led lessons, collaboration, and independent project work.

Topics include creating VR environments, "thinking" in 3D, and of course, developing coding and design skills. With this broad focus, students will have an opportunity to try their hand at a variety of game development disciplines, including scripting, design, art, and more. 

5. Intro to Python Coding for Machine Learning

Ages: 13-17
Tools: Python, Machine Learning
Concepts: Coding, Game Dev
Learn more: Python Coding Games
Get Started: Program Info

In this program, kids can learn the fundamentals of Python coding and implement object-oriented and machine learning concepts by building games and custom projects.

What does that mean? Well, it's learning all about loops and working on creating a number guessing game. It's learning about functions and creating a Magic 8-Ball program. Students will also dive into neural networks and how they are structured. They'll practice collecting data for them to make their own network, and more!

6. Minecraft Server Development 

Ages: 7-19
Tools: Minecraft
Concepts: Coding, Game Dev
Learn more: How to Create a Minecraft Server
Get Started: Program Info

While Survival mode is engaging, venturing into a multiplayer servers offers a wider range of game types, opportunities to make new friends, and engaging interactions. Master the art of locating and joining these servers to unlock a plethora of unique games to play.

As kids delve deeper, they'll discover and use built-in Minecraft features like redstone or command blocks to create their own inspired modifications. From crafting a waiting room-style lobby with fun parkour challenges to adding new features, they'll unlock a whole new dimension of possibilities in Minecraft's multiplayer maps.

7. General Computer Science 

Ages: 10-19
Concepts: Coding
Learn more7 Best Coding Languages for Kids
Get Started: Program Info

This course is designed to reinforce the basics of coding while introducing advanced concepts like algorithms and data structures. Thus, kids can learn about variables, if statements, and functions while working with various algorithms and data structures. They will also get the chance to explore object-oriented concepts.

By the end of the course, kids should have gained a solid understanding of computer science fundamentals and be able to apply them to more complex coding challenges.

8. Data Science with Trading Cards 

Ages: 13-19
Concepts: Coding, Math
Learn more: Computer Science Facts
Get Started: Program Info

Hey parents, not all math has to be so math-y. That's right, we are talking trading cards! 

Data Science with Trading Cards combines something kids are already familiar with - like Pokémon or Magic the Gathering cards - with some of the most in-demand Python skills out there today. 

Why? Because a big key to playing, collecting, and getting better at trading card games is data science. More specifically, probability and statistics to mathematically model and assumptions. 

9. AI Experimentation Lab 

Ages: 13-17
Tools: Python
Concepts: Coding
Learn more: Machine Learning for Kids
Get Started: Program Info

Per the intro, the need for skilled AI professionals is more critical than ever before! Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing our technology, from generating images and facial recognition to automated chat responses and Natural Language Processing.

This program is designed to help kids navigate this exciting field by teaching the basics of Python and how to explore the latest AI technologies using popular tools like OpenAI, ChatGPT, and TensorFlow. 

10. Robotics Algorithms and AI with Sphero RVR 

Ages: 10-19
Tools: Sphero RVR
Concepts: Coding, Robotics
Learn more: Online Robotics Classes for Kids 
Get Started: Program Info

Looking to dive into the exciting world of robotics and coding? The Sphero RVR is an exceptional programmable and remote-controlled vehicle that's perfect for budding engineers and coders.

With the ability to make programs using Scratch blocks or JavaScript, kids will learn the ins and outs of coding while exploring autonomous and user-controlled features. In this program, they'll use the Sphero RVR to learn about coding and robotics engineering, program their robot to complete tasks, create basic AI behaviors, and develop problem-solving skills. It's an immersive and hands-on coding and robotics experience. 

11. Mental Math 

Ages: 7-19
Concepts: Math
Learn more: Important Math Formulas Kids Should Know
Get Started: Program Info

Mental math is exactly what it sounds like—the ability to do mathematical calculations in one's head! As you can imagine, it's a valuable skill that can help students not only in school, but in everyday life as they learn how to arrive at conclusions faster than before. 

With a mental math program, kids can learn to visualize math and easily add and subtract in their mind, taking in tips and tricks to perform calculator-free actions at a new level.

Whether your child is interested in math competitions or simply looking to sharpen their math skills without pencil and paper, the guidance of a math tutor can help them get there.

Getting Started

A STEM program is the ultimate investment in your children’s future. And with the right mentor, there’s no limit to what your child can accomplish. Whatever your child’s STEM goals are this year, we’re here to help them every step of the way. 

A photo of Ryan

Ryan has been in EdTech and with iD Tech for 13 years—building experience, expertise, and knowledge in all things coding, game development, college prep, STEM, and more. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Connect on LinkedIn

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