Encouraging STEM for Kids
If your child loves science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM for short – then you may have a future engineer on your hands. With kids getting ready to go back to school, you still have time to reinforce and foster child’s love of STEM at home. Here are a few ways to keep your future engineer engaged and excited about STEM.
For younger children try going on a “Shape Hunt”. Just cut out different shapes like triangles, hexagons and squares and go looking for those shapes around the neighborhood, like on street signs and other outdoor objects. “Marble Run” construction kits are a fun way to test out how an item falls and interacts with other objects. Creating obstacles for the marble is a fun way to examine how the marble interacts and adjusts to various obstacles like ramps, spirals and long and short sections of track and how those track sections affect the speed and distance the marble travels. Update the baking soda and vinegar volcano with food coloring and a more elaborate diorama to help illustrate the chemical reaction between a base and an acid. Lastly, you can make addition fun for your young children through the use of blocks, by creating flash cards that show the additions or subtractions of different blocks and the final result of the equation.
For older kids it’s easier to try more ambitious building projects. Try building a ramp out of cardboard or other common household materials and record the run times using toy cars of different sizes and weights to see how weight can affect the speed and velocity of the track run. Build boats out of common household materials and try seeing which design floats the best in a kiddie pool or bathtub. Timed flash card drills are a great way to enforce necessary math formulas. Start a small garden and help show your kids the life cycle of a plant from seed to blossom. Go out and use star maps to check out star constellations and planets, and consider investing in a telescope or binoculars to really help these celestial objects come to life.
STEM education plays a big role in helping engineers of the future follow their passion. So, in addition to STEM activates at home, encourage your child to join STEM extracurricular activities at school, or any science or mathematics school or community-based organization. Lastly, keep an eye out for and visit any STEM events hosted in your community. By nurturing their natural curiosity, you can help put your little engineer on a path of life-long learning and problem solving.