Why is S.T.E.M. so Important?
Did you know? According to the National Science Foundation, “the number of workers in Science and Engineering occupations grew from about 1.1 million in 1960 to about 5.8 million in 2011. This represents an average annual rate of 3.3%, greater than the 1.5% growth rate for the total workforce.”
As your child is growing and learning, encouraging interest in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is going to help them become educated about skills that they may use in their future professions. As we can see, many jobs are continuing to head in this direction. It’s important for children to explore, become inspired and have fun, so that they can find a love for S.T.E.M.
Familiarizing students with S.T.E.M. activities can activate their creativity and engineering skills. STEM is engaging and applies to the “real world.” It allows for collaboration, exploration, using evidence, and many other important skills that people need to be successful in many careers.
S.T.E.M. Activity Ideas
Here are some ideas of how to bring STEM into your classroom or home, and some that you can even do outside:
- Building Towers – There are so many ways to be creative in exploring common classroom objects and the way they work together. You can make up a scenario and give students a chance to work together to solve the problem. For example, carpenters are building a new restaurant and want the restaurant to be as tall as possible, while remaining sturdy. Here are some supplies to use to create the tallest building possible: Popsicle sticks, paper clips, clothespins, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, tape, etc. Have students’ measure using rulers or yard sticks.
- Use a mentor text to solve a problem. Many elementary school fiction books lend themselves to this, as they almost always have a problem and solution. Give students the opportunity to bring in recyclable products to allow for differentiated and unique creations.
- Teaching about Momentum – Our town is looking to design a brand new skateboarding park. They want it to be the best park in the state. Give students various supplies to design a ramp that will make a marble go the farthest and fastest.
- Catapult – Come up with any seasonal/holiday scenario and give students plastic spoons, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, tissue boxes, cotton balls to test it, etc. (you may want to add more or take away options depending on your students skill levels). Here are some scenario examples:
- Valentine’s Day – Cupid’s wings aren’t working and he cannot send his valentines. Create a way for cupid to send his valentines as far as possible.
- Winter Snowball Fight – You have a big snowball fight. Find a way to design a way to send snowballs as far as possible.
- Pumpkin Launch – You are in a pumpkin launching competition. Create a contraption that can send pumpkins (use candy pumpkins) as far as possible.
Additional S.T.E.M. Resources
Whatever S.T.E.M. activities that you choose to try with your students, it’s important that students have a place to record data and evaluate their work. Check out these S.T.E.M. Journals as one possibility.
Has your child or student finished the S.T.E.M. activity early? Be prepared with this Engineering And Design Building Set – City, which is a great product for engineering practice.
Give your child or students a head start toward their successful future. Teach them to enjoy learning and exploring, and never stop reminding them that they can always go back and modify their inventions.
What do you find to be the biggest obstacle in implementing S.T.E.M. activities in your classroom or home (time, money, finding resources, child’s interest, lessons, etc.)? Please share ideas with others on how you can simplify their experience.