Topic: Education

Building STEM skills with children

STEM education has fast become one of the main terms we see frequently in the news and early education, but what exactly is STEM education and how can we incorporate it into our children’s learning and development?

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and maths.

The term STEM Education was initiated by the National Science Foundation and refers to an educational approach which combines several of the disciples to create a fusion of learning.
STEM may seem like very advanced and academic topics for children but in reality, children are frequently and spontaneously engaging with STEM throughout the day – from playing inside and engaging in lots of activities to exploring the world outside.

Enhancing children’s opportunities to engage in STEM learning doesn’t take lots of resources either. Building blocks can quickly become engineering and maths challenges, with the addition of bridges and ramps. Technology can also be incorporated through research online and with different resources. Outside, gardening with children’s tools builds on their broader STEM experience, with lots of challenges such as how to water new plants.

Exciting STEM Activities

Water. Water is a rich STEM material and playing with water is a great way to engage children. Provide a basin of water outside so you don't have to worry about any spills. Allow your child to select tools to experiment with, such as empty bottles and plastic measuring cups, etc. to fill and compare. It’s also interesting on a sunny day to provide paint brushes, which children can use to draw with water and watch the marks disappear and evaporate!

STEM skills used: Maths and Science!

Building. Build a ramp to test which items will go the fastest! This may be toy cars, balls or marbles. To create the ramp, use a hard board or sheet of cardboard with one side elevated. Roll a variety of objects down the ramp – you can even roll two together to see which one wins the race! Record your findings on a chart and look out for different features which might help the items to travel quickly!

STEM skills used: Engineering and Maths!

Nature walk. Nature walks can be a great outdoor STEM activity for children, with lots to see! If you’re heading out for a walk, take a reusable bag and encourage your child to look out for exciting and interesting objects to collect. These may be small round stones, flowers or leaves. When you get home, help your child to sort the different objects and treasures into categories, such as colour, texture, size and shape.

STEM skills used: Maths and Science!

Cooking. Cooking with children is a fantastic activity and would you believe, it’s another way to engage with STEM and learning at home! Before beginning, research recipes online. Once you have decided on what you would like to make, let your child help you measure, weigh and mix, and also discuss the different processes and transitions that are taking place, for example when baking a cake or freezing liquids.

STEM skills used: Maths, Science and Technology!

Towers. Building towers with paper or plastic cups is a great and easy activity. Create a challenge such as, "how high can you make a tower of cups?" Measure each tower and record the height.

STEM skills used: Engineering and Maths!

Shopping. Head to your local grocery store or greengrocer with your child, and purchase some exciting fruits and vegetables that you have never tried before. Before cutting up the fruits and vegetables, ask your child to guess what they think will be inside each item. Then, with careful supervision, have your child help you cut up the items into small pieces to try. Why not invite your family members to a tasting party and make a graph that shows everyone's favourites!

STEM skills used: Science and Maths!

Children love to experiment, build, explore, investigate and have lots of fun learning, and STEM education provides lots of practical opportunities. With these additional ideas, STEM can be part of your daily routine too!