If you are interested in STEM it is important to have a bit of background information regarding this topic. There is a lot of information out there so I will try to be concise. I will explain why I believe STEM learning is important and how you can implement it at home.
What is STEM?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is currently being used to define a methodology or educational practice that combines these disciplines into an interdisciplinary approach to learning the subjects. STEM is very broad and encompasses so many different aspects of this world that it can sometimes be a bit daunting. In reality, STEM is everywhere and everything has a bit of STEM in it. And with this blog, my aim is to help you understand it a bit better.
Why is STEM Learning important?
You will read everywhere that STEM is mainly important because of its professional relevance in our current technology-driven society. And this is true, however, it is not only about the future job market. Learning through a STEM approach means applying STEM skills and combining them to solve real-life problems. Contrary to popular belief, it does not only help children develop science and math skills but it also works on their so-called 21st-century skills. Critical thinking, analytical and organizational skills as well as creativity and communication are just some of the skills that go hand in hand with learning through a STEM methodology. It is inquiry-based, meaning it aims to answer questions, and therefore helps children nurture their innate curiosity and love of learning. So, in other words, STEM learning is a way to prepare children to tackle real-life situations, where problems cannot be clearly divided into separate school subjects and this is where the importance really lies.
I believe that STEM is connected to the way we see the world and the way our brain processes information. In order to tackle any STEM challenge, your brain has to have a necessary set of tools to help it navigate this challenge.
When talking about STEM learning it is important to note that it is not only about the scientific concepts or the mathematical tools. It is also about the way they think about problem-solving. We have reached a moment in time in which information is at our fingertips! So just knowing the concepts is not enough, we need to know how to use them in context. Or how to apply them to real life so they become less abstract. For this, we have to know how to use the tools. And this is what STEM learning is about. It is about learning the STEM concepts by training the brain to think in a STEM way. For example, tools like the scientific method or the engineering design process are examples of structured problem-solving.
However, even when using these tools it is good to have other skills to support problem-solving. Being creative, looking at a problem from different perspectives, having patience and learning from mistakes, not giving up or knowing when to give up, knowing what questions to ask, these are all examples of skills that can be worked on through STEM learning. And the great thing about this is that it is not specific to STEM. These skills can be transferred to life in general and this is where the importance of STEM learning actually lies. In learning a skill-set which can allow you to problem-solve in an efficient and productive way.
STEM Learning with Children
The beauty of STEM learning with children is that they are naturally curious. That curiosity, that wonder, and inquiry, if guided accordingly can be used to nurture a love for learning and pave the way to discovering how the world works. And STEM learning can be adapted and grow as the child grows, diving deeper into Science Technology Engineering and Math concepts as the developmental milestones of the brain are reached. Small things like collecting, organizing and categorizing can be started early on and can then develop into solving a problem or finding out how something works.
Side note: it is important to note that the child’s brain develops in specific stages and that it is very important to not introduce activities or experiments that may frustrate the child. We want to keep our children motivated for STEM. Pushing activities when they are not ready is not the way to do it.
Having Fun is so important
So STEM with children is about having fun while they learn. It is also about engaging with them so that they can foster a love for STEM. With this, we can prepare them for being great problem-solvers and life-long learners. And this is the reason I created this blog, to help parents bring STEM into their home in an effective and fun way! Through guided activities, information and resources I hope to help you transform your home into a place of wonder and discovery. Because STEM learning does not need to be a thing of schools and educational institutions. But rather it can start and be nurtured at home. If you want to read more about this check out my post: 5 reasons for supporting STEM learning at home. Or check out some of the guided activities on the blog:
- Why do things float or sink?
- The Tower of Random Things: A guided STEM challenge to thinking outside the box
- Engineer a house out of natural materials
- Let’s build a pyramid! A guided STEM activity to shapes and spatial awareness
Happy STEM learning!