You may have heard the term “STEM” a lot lately, but what does it mean? STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math and has become increasingly popular in early childhood education. Birth through age five are the most critical years in neurological and brain development and fostering an interest early on is crucial and will benefit our children for years to come. As a parent, you are extremely important in your child’s out of school education. So, how can we continue STEM education outside of the classroom? Easy! STEM is everywhere! Think of activities that involve asking questions, measuring, planning, making observations, and defining problems. Encourage your child to get messy with scientific play by creating a messy area where they can mix different mediums together and see what they create. Science, technology, engineering, and math don’t have to be daunting subjects and STEM is all about cultivating and encouraging an interest in children as soon as possible. Below you will find a few ideas to try at home this summer.
Cooking: Cooking and baking is a wonderful way to incorporate STEM into your child’s everyday life. Measuring is a great way for kids to learn fractions, and mixing and observing different reactions between ingredients is a great way to integrate both math and science into your home.
Gardening: Working in the garden will help kids understand where our food comes from and the science behind growing it. Have them think about some questions while you are outside. Why are worms beneficial to the dirt? How come plants need water to grow? Encourage your child to ask questions and then investigate to find the answers.
Make a Rube Goldberg Machine: Encourage your young engineer to make a working Rube Goldberg machine. Give them a goal (knock a book down, turn a light switch on etc.) and challenge them to finish it in the most creative way they can think of!
Here are some future scientists experimenting with baking soda and vinegar. STEM should be fun!