What is STEM?
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are largely used to influence innovative solutions to our world’s problems. Day-to-day decisions are increasingly being driven by data, with 90% of the world’s data generated just in the last two years. The proliferation of global access to mobile technology, the internet, and other innovations indicates that future generations should be STEM-literate. Demand for STEM jobs has increased so much that 2.4 million STEM-related jobs in the United States were expected to go unfilled in 2018.
Encouraging early STEM education for young children today will not only help develop interdisciplinary critical thinking now, but it will also help set your child up with the critical, relevant skills that research says will be integral for your child’s future success.
How Can Parents and Teachers Encourage STEM?
Engaging in a diverse set of projects and activities best encourages passion and curiosity for STEM. Hands-on experiences, strong role models, and exciting problems motivate children to want to learn and grow. Through a blend of different projects and activities, STEM teachers and parents not only nurture a love for STEM but also develop children’s desires to tackle complex problems that require a wide range of skills.
As the U.S. Department of Education outlines, parents do not need STEM degrees to help children learn science. Armed with just a magnifying glass and going outside, parents can teach kids about the world by asking children to observe, ask questions, and think about what they see about everything, from bugs to mud puddles.
STEM is for Young Kids Too
STEM is for all ages! Many local science centers host events that are designed particularly for young age groups. Young children discovering the world around them for the first time have much to learn and absorb from these programs.
Just playing with children and offering creative, hands-on experiences inspires inquisitive minds. Educational & Learning Educational & Learning Toys and games that stimulate curiosity are excellent teaching tools. LEGOs, building blocks, as well as tinkering stations with items like string, straws, pipe cleaners, colorful tape, and a popsicle, sticks aid fine motor skills and spatial skills. Not only that, but they also teach how to plan, inquire, and think like scientists.
STEM Projects for Kids
Project-based learning provides a strong sense of accomplishment, teaches resilience in the face of difficult problems, and shows how people adapt and learn from failure. Mentoring and guiding a child through projects builds confidence and gives them the tools they need to make their ideas come to life. Many of Juni’s students utilize what they learn in our courses to program their games, websites, and more. With someone there to help debug particularly tricky problems and offer guidance, students can pursue wilder, more creative ideas. We also have a special collection of great coding toys and games for kids to get a quick start.
Beyond coding, there are many fun projects parents can do with their children, across all ages. Here are some selected project ideas and science experiments to get started!
- Rock candy
- Growing crystals
- Coloring flowers by putting them in solution
- Using imagination to build LEGOs
- Inspiring aspiring architects with KAPLA blocks
- Math Jenga
- …and of course, the traditional volcano!
STEM Activities for Kids
According to the National Science & Technology Council, the best STEM education should be interdisciplinary and blend different forms of learning. Some of the best STEM lessons can be found through correlated skills of inquiry, creativity, and genuine excitement. Engaging in a full breadth of activities best supports a well-rounded education that forms a fertile foundation for innovation.
Outside a formalized STEM education, parents can support their child’s passions in a wide variety of ways. By exposing children to nature emporiums, museums, science centers, zoos, aquariums, and libraries, parents can inspire and nurture their child’s inquisitive mind and creativity. These locations often offer a variety of hands-on workshops, events, summer camps and programs, and more. Not only are these activities fun for children, but they’re great for the whole family!
STEM Helps Develop Lifelong Skills
The drive for discovery and exploration that early STEM education develops will serve a child throughout their life and help them adapt to a changing, tech-driven world. By encouraging a child’s interests and passions, parents help develop their child’s abilities to be resilient to challenges, inquire about the world around them, and creatively solve problems.
This article originally appeared on junilearning.com