April 1, 2024

At Grand Universe, we’re on a mission to ignite lifelong learning and encourage the next generation to pursue a career in a STEM-related field. But, in a world full of social media influencers, 24/7 news cycles, and binge-watching your favorite TV series—it can be challenging to get kids and students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Believe it or not, pop culture might just be a way to get folks excited about these subjects.

TV & movies

TV shows and movies are some of the biggest indicators of what’s trending in pop culture. These forms of media also make for a great platform for getting kids and students interested in STEM-related topics. Big Hero 6, The Martian, Hidden Figures, The Magic School Bus, and Mythbusters are just a few examples of popular movies and shows that have STEM themes.

In a survey conducted by a researcher at the University of North Dakota, those in a space science field ranked entertainment (movies, books, etc.) as the number one factor that influenced their interest in the subject. 76% of that sample had watched Star Trek (Jackson). As these types of storylines grow in popularity, we anticipate a wider interest in STEM learning through the influence these films have on today’s society.

Technology

We can’t forget to mention technology. Many kids today are interested in phones, laptops, and Virtual Reality (VR). They’ve grown up around technology and are always excited to get the next latest and greatest thing. Plus, video games like Minecraft and Among Us encourage kids to develop problem-solving skills and find the world of science captivating and exciting.

In a 2024 study of 175 8th-grade students, the data showed a marginally significant increase in STEM interest through the survey responses collected after playing Minecraft for a specified amount of time (ResearchGate).  

Social media & STEM influencers

Last but not least, social media has a huge influence on what kids and teens are interested in learning more about. While social media can deter kids away from STEM learning in some instances, some leaders in the industry are using it for good.

Bioastronautics researcher, mother, and STEM influencer, Kellie Gerardi, is encouraging many girls to pursue space and science. Recently going viral for wearing Taylor Swift-inspired friendship bracelets as the 90th woman in space, she is breaking stereotypes. With her videos, Gerardi is inspiring girls to pursue a career in STEM without neglecting their other interests in fashion, music, and hobbies. 

Breaking new ground

In 2023, 86% of those ages 2-12 watched YouTube videos, 50% played video games, 38% watched TikTok videos, and 63% watched on-demand movies or shows (Statista). These stats give insight into just how widespread of a reach pop culture has on kids.

At Grand Universe, our hope is that learners of all ages, no matter the stereotypical limitations that exist, will be inspired to explore, learn, and become passionate about science and space. We need your help to achieve this mission! Get a sneak peek into our latest build updates, what we're up to behind the scenes, and more when you become a Grand Universe Ambassador. Learn more.

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