But they’re too young for STEM….aren’t they? Ruth Tsui from The Virtual Explorers Club debunks this myth & gives us some fantastic activities to try at home.
STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths- is everywhere in our day to day lives. Every question is an investigation in the making whether it’s baking a cake, walking in the woods, taking a trip to the park or watching that tower fall down. STEM is critical to life as we know it, the curiosity of scientists, engineering and inventors the world over, both past and present has led to some vital discoveries that affect us in our daily lives.
We don’t need to teach children how to ask questions or explore, it’s hard wired into their DNA! From the day they are born they’re getting to grips with their environment, trying things out, making predictions and pushing the boundaries! Our challenge as parents is to let them explore as freely as possible (safely of course!)- we need to nurture their natural curiosity and provide opportunities to develop the life skills STEM learning promotes, everything from creativity and self-esteem to critical thinking and resilience.
STEM is about so much more than just concepts and knowledge, and while that part of it is important, I’d argue the skills STEM learning develops are far more important for our children in the long term (there’s always Google for the knowledge part!). Every time we investigate a new question, we are giving them the chance to observe, collect information, make decisions, form and voice opinions, develop resilience, collaborate and work effectively with others.
We need to start exploring STEM subjects with our children from a young age, so don’t be concerned they are too young- they’re really not! Research shows that by the time children reach the age of 7 they have already decided whether they enjoy learning or not. Developing their enthusiasm and interest from a young age makes them much more likely to want to continue exploring a subject as they get older. You are their role model for learning, so share your enthusiasm and they’ll pick up on it too.
Encourage your children to ask questions, and if you don’t know the answer don’t be afraid to say so. You have the perfect opportunity to create an investigation where you find out the answer together all while modelling how to do science with your small person. Start with what they already know and work your way up from there.
Hands on, practical learning experiences, where you do simple activities together is the way forward. Forget the GCSE science classroom where you struggled over formula and complex theories! STEM that relates to the real world around our children is the most effective and most fun.
Here are some super simple STEM activities you can try with your little one at home:
Encourage your children to talk about what they are experiencing, ask them what they think will happen when you add the water to the flour, what the Oobleck feels like and whether they like it or not!
You’ll only need cocktail sticks and midget gems or spaghetti and marshmallows for this one. Set your children the challenge of building the tallest free-standing structure they can. It’ll really test their communication skills and resilience. Take time to explain to them that it might feel hard and they might feel a bit cross sometimes, but that’s okay, that you are there to help them.
This is a super simple exploration of the Water Cycle, our young children don’t need to explain the water cycle at this age, but you’ll be laying the foundations for later learning. Focus on asking them what they observe happening, listening to and following your instructions and telling someone else what they did (recounting their experiences).
Once you’ve finished, scoop the coloured shaving foam onto a tray, smooth it out with a spoon and then place a piece of paper into it- now you’ve got some artwork too!
The Virtual Explorers Club is a growing STEM resources library, and is the perfect way to engage your curious primary school aged children in practical learning. Whether you’re a teacher or a parent I’m here to make it as easy as possible to explore and have fun learning together through detailed STEM resource packs and supporting videos.
Want to find out more? You can find The Virtual Explorers Club here:
Website is: www.thevirtualexplorersclub.com
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