How STEM Education Can Help Build Confidence in Youth

May 31, 2022

Confidence and self-efficacy are directly linked to a young person’s mental health and well-being (Michal Mann et al., 2004). And they can be just as important as their technical skills to their ability to thrive (Han, J., Kelley, T. & Knowles, J.G., 2021). But, a growing body of research indicates that pandemic-related school closures, family stress, and trauma have led to increased mental health problems among youth (Vaillancourt et al. 2021). Actua is also witnessing a collective concern among many parents and educators that young people are experiencing significant learning loss and decreased confidence and motivation levels, affecting their overall love of learning.

Recognizing the urgent need for increased youth mental health support, Actua recently launched its #BuildBackConfidence campaign to raise awareness of the power of STEM education in rebuilding lost confidence. Our goal is to help you – parents, educators, and industry – effectively use STEM education to build critical skills that empower youth to thrive today and tomorrow while building the confidence needed to feel more engaged and motivated in their learning.  

So, why STEM?

STEM education is a powerful tool for equipping youth with the skills and confidence for just about anything. There are two main reasons why we believe it can fundamentally motivate youth, build confidence and ignite a love for learning.

STEM Has the Power to Address the World's Most Challenging Problems.

Throughout the past two years youth have been exposed to less-than-positive and, at times, extremely frightening news coverage, including the extreme impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. What doesn’t make it into our news feed as frequently is the research and innovations contributing to making the world a better place full of hope and optimism. From new medical advancements to green energy technologies, STEM plays a critical role in addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges. 

We believe that by engaging youth in STEM education, we can reignite their hope and confidence in the world and show them that, with the skills and confidence in STEM, they have the power to build solutions that create change and make a difference. 

STEM Education Builds the Critical Skills and Confidence Proven to Help Youth Thrive.

STEM is a teaching philosophy that recognizes the connection between the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math and focuses on project-based activities that apply to real-world scenarios and build practical hands-on skills and confidence. STEM learning encourages youth to work with others towards achieving a common goal, embrace the messiness of trial and error, take appropriate risks and learn from failure. 

It is no surprise that more and more educators are turning to STEM as an effective tool to aid social and emotional learning, which aims to develop self-awareness, empathy and interpersonal skills among youth and ultimately build confidence. Evidence also shows that project-based activities that promote these types of soft or – as we like to call them – “human” skills can effectively build motivation and confidence levels among young people (Weber, Benjamin Aaron, 2016), in addition to 21st-century skills.

Confidence Building Among Youth from Underrepresented Groups.

On top of the benefits listed above, STEM programs, like Actua’s National Programs, have been designed to build youths’ confidence by helping them feel a sense of belonging in STEM and jobs of the future. Whether it’s our InSTEM or National Girls Program, these programs build youths’ confidence by:

  • connecting youth to role models and a community of like-minded peers,
  • engaging youth in culturally relevant learning material that celebrates their existing identities and cultures; and 
  • providing them with a safe space to design, build, experiment and explore.


Let us know how you’re helping build back youths’ confidence on social media by using the hashtag #BuildBackConfidence.