STEM is an acronym for science, technology engineering and mathematics and refers to the subjects that schools or education systems focusses on.
STEM-oriented learning has been a leading focus of the United States since the end of World War II due to the American industry’s massive growth and transformation during the war. Since then, it has gained attention from multiple other nations with an increase in interest and funding over time.
The growing attention has resulted in multiple variations and different interpretations of STEM. Some variations of STEM include:
- STM (Scientific, Technical, and Mathematics; or Science, Technology, and Medicine; or Scientific, Technical, and Medical)
- STEMIE (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Invention and Entrepreneurship)
- STREM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, and Mathematics)
- GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science)
- THAMES (Technology, Hands-On, Art, Mathematics, Engineering, Science)
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics)
The right approach to engage children in STEM education is that Most STEM educators should use a holistic approach to teach students about the world. Students should no longer be funnelled into siloed divisions of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. Instead, STEM educators should encourage their student’s natural curiosity and create safe environments to ask questions, even about seemingly simple facts and concepts.
When encouraging your child to acquire a STEM mentality, try to keep the following examples of famous scientists in mind:
• We don’t celebrate Isaac Newton because of his brilliant engineering or mathematical intelligence. He is celebrated because only he asked the question: “What makes the apple fall?”
• Albert Einstein, one of the leading theoretical scientists in the modern world, was not a mathematical genius. In fact, he struggled for a long time to work through a mathematical problem that he created himself. When one of the most famous mathematicians of the world at that time decided to intervene and attempt to solve his equation, Einstein realized he had to take a step back to ask the right question. It was only then that Einstein developed the “General Theory of Relativity” and completely change the way humanity perceives the universe.
What are the Benefits of a STEM Education for Children?
- Improves problem-solving skills
- Allows children to gain a practical understanding of concepts rather than memorizing from a textbook
- Invokes creativity and innovative skills
- Encourages persistence and determination
- Allows children to develop resiliency when they encounter hurdles teaches them to fail and recover
- Develops outside-the-box and creative thinking
- Encourages social collaboration and teamwork
How to Prepare Your Child for STEM Education?
Show them how to access knowledge: Thanks to the internet, there are vast amounts of information easily accessible as long as you have a desktop, mobile device or tablet. Make sure to teach your children how to find reliable and verified sources of information on the internet.
Challenge them with questions: Instead of immediately answering your child’s questions every time, try turning the question on them. This will challenge their thinking and encourage them to find a solution for themselves.
Encourage them to ask questions: If you’re going to “force” your kids to do anything, it should be to ask more questions. No matter how silly the questions seem, don’t let them fear or hesitate to ask questions. Questions are the gateway to inventions and innovation.
Let them fail: Failure is a part of learning. Don’t focus on the failure but teach them how to focus on learning from their failures.
“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do, doesn’t mean it’s useless.” – Thomas Edison, Inventor
Play & Learn
Cook together: Cooking may not sound very scientific at first; however it’s the simplest and purest form of chemistry. And it’s edible! Even if you’re not a good cook, you can encourage your child to cook under your supervision.
Spend time in nature: Nature is the mother of all sciences and is a very good way to trigger the natural curiosity of children. Spending time in nature also helps children realize the vastness of the universe and nature.
Encourage them to read: A child or person without an ability to express their curiosity or questions will not be able to ask the right questions or make sense of the answers they find. Language is the pinnacle of human advancement and it’s first and foremost driving force. Reading, not only about science but about anything, will improve their linguistic capabilities and help them grasp new concepts and facts faster.
Get them involved with technology: Technology is a constantly changing tool that’s heavily involved in all of our lives. Let them embrace this fact and technology itself. And realize that technology is nothing to fear or obsess over, but only a tool to help us.
Let them play: Playing games is very important in the development of a child’s brain. You can also encourage them to play educational or thinking games that improve their intellectual thinking. Games developed by child education specialists and teachers, such as MentalUP, are a good option if you want to track your child’s performance over time. Think about getting a beginners book here & a beginners set here.
Brain games were created by academics and child education specialists to specifically develop the intellectual capacity of children. The games are designed to allow children to have fun and challenge their thinking.