What is the new STEM Learning? And How can I incorporate STEM at Home?
Have you tried various methods of learning that just aren’t working for your kid? The education system is always changing and with that change comes new and innovative strategies for teaching kids. The most up to date learning strategy are called STEM.
What is STEM?
STEM is an innovative learning that gets kids ready for global leadership. Basically, kids are being prepared for life outside of school and the potential jobs that will be hitting the streets in the future generations. STEM jobs are projected to increase by the year 2020 and beyond. But, what does STEM stand for? STEM is an acronym for each of the following critical components of education.
Science: We are continuously looking for new ways to cure diseases, explore the world, and understand things around us. Science is a key component in kids learning how to help improve the environment in the future.
Technology: With an increase in technology, future jobs in the technology industry are going on a rise. Therefore, the STEM program is incorporating an increase in technology skills in the school.
Engineering: If it wasn’t for a nation of engineers, we wouldn’t have what we have today. The STEM program seeks to create thinkers for new and better designs who can grow and develop our nation even more than it is.
Mathematics: Our country is one of the lowest in the world when it comes to comprehending mathematics. STEM programs focus on new ways of introducing math that leave students with a reason to learn it.
The goal behind STEM programs is to foster kids throughout their schooling with hands-on approaches in thinking critically, creating, designing, and making meaningful connections between their school work, their community, and global issues. Hands-on learning increases student involvement and thus promotes more learning than teaching for a test.
How can you Incorporate STEM at Home?
You may not be a scientist, an inventor, a technological guru, or a math teacher, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate STEM at home. In fact, with STEM learning, you can learn right along with your kids. Here are ways you can foster the STEM learning at home:
Do Science Fair Projects
Science fair doesn’t have to only happen at school. It doesn’t have to be once a year. Start with questions you or your child want to find the answer to. For example, what happens when you mix vinegar and baking soda? Make a hypothesis or a guess to what you think will happen. Test your theory. Take your question to the next level by asking what if I do more vinegar or more baking soda? Keep asking questions and seeking answers to those questions. Here are just a few science experiments to try:
- How far will an airplane fly? Build and test various paper airplanes to see which one flies the furthest.
- Can you make batteries from fruits and veggies? Try it out. Find out what you need and see which fruits or veggies work (hint: try a potato).
- Can you turn milk into plastic? Try it out! You may be surprised yourself.
- Are you right brained or left brained? Find out by discovering which side of your body you use the most with various activities.
Sylvan learning center has incorporated the STEM learning into their tutoring sessions by utilizing an IPad to teach other skills such as math and science. You may think them playing apps on a screen is hindering their learning, but screens are part of the technology around us. When it comes to using a computer, Smartphone, or IPad, kids know more than adults. Use screens to teach other skills by downloading educational apps. Let them start a blog where they can talk about all the things they like and design it however they want. These technological skills are what future jobs will be looking for. So, if you think your kids are on the screens too much, think again. Here are a few cool educational apps for kids:
- MIT App Inventor (coding)
- Pocket Universe (stargazing and learning)
- NASA Visualization Explorer (Science and astrology)
- DragonBox (teaches algebra secretly)
- Robots for IPad (robotics)
Foster your Kids Creativity
Engineering is more about creativity than it is anything else. There are plenty of ways you can help your kids understand the concept of engineering without them even knowing they are learning. Here are a few strategies for incorporating engineering at home:
- Play with Legos: Have you ever been to Lego Land? Kids are creating castles, boats, and skyscrapers out of Legos.
- Ask your kids to design their own bedroom: Of course, your kid will jump on this idea because it is something that interests them and they can use their engineering skills to incorporate measurements for the most creative room in history.
Seriously, Play with Legos
Did you know you can teach more math concepts using these fun toys than any other toy on the market? Math is a key component in the STEM learning program, but remember, it needs to be hands-on! Check out all the ways your kids can play with Legos and learn math skills:
- Additions/Subtraction: Practice adding and subtracting the studs on the Legos.
- Multiplication Visuals: Did you know that each Lego shows a multiplication problem? 2 studs times 2 rows equal what? Instead of drawing a picture to explain multiplication, you can simply show them using Legos.
- Estimation: Gather a bunch of Legos in a pile to estimate how many blue, how many studs or how many total Legos are in the pile.
- Fractions: Who knew you could even use Legos as fractions. Use two different colored Lego bricks to represent a fraction such as a brick of 4 studs over a brick of 8 studs.
- Sorting: Teach your young ones’ colors or sizes by sorting your bricks into the categories.
- Patterns: Use different colored bricks to make patterns. You can even make patterns by using addition, subtraction, or multiplication.
- Area: Simply multiply the number of studs on the sides to find the area of a Lego.
What other ways could you incorporate STEM at home? Share some ideas in the comments below!