Some families may be more familiar with the term STEM learning. STEM is an acronym for learning about four specific areas of curriculum – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These four disciplines are integrated in our everyday lives and many important jobs. STEM learning usually incorporates activities that encourage knowledge of everyday problem solving and critical thinking. Recent initiatives however have been made to change STEM to STEAM to include the art and design discipline as well to promote the creative aspect of these disciplines as well.
STEM/STEAM learning is very important because these five disciplines are used in everyday activities. They promote problem solving, and creative and analytical thinking. Many of the jobs that effect our economy include STEAM subjects. Accounting, architecture, medical research, and environmental studies all involve science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations have grown in the last ten years three times faster than non-STEM occupations and STEAM occupations are expected to grow by 10% from now until 2020. Non-STEAM occupations only grow at a national average of 5-8%.
For this reason, among others, it is never too early to begin introducing STEAM learning to your child. Activities that focus the STEAM disciplines help children learn through trial and error by experimenting and problem solving. Families do not need to wait to introduce a child to STEAM learning. Introducing STEAM learning can begin simply by pointing out why and how things in our everyday lives work. For example, when something falls to the ground, explain to your child that the object fell due to gravity.
Here are 10 activities families can do at home with their children that will touch on at least one of the STEAM disciplines:
- Grow plants from seeds in a jar
- Practice reading, writing or math skills through a fun, educational app
- Create a conveyor belt
- Research what happens when mixing watercolors and oils
- Practice different ways to add numbers but still come up with the same answer
- Make magnetic slime
- Use programs or games that help develop typing skills
- Design structures out of cups, sticks and/or blocks and test out balance
- Determine how plants absorb water by using food coloring
- Learn about different coins and bills and how to add them
Families should remember that these disciplines go hand in hand and they will find that activities that promote STEM and STEAM learning will involve more than one focus of learning. For families who are interested in learning about more activity ideas that promote STEM/STEAM learning, follow us on Pinterest!