What is STEM?
Science, technology, engineering, and math. These four areas of learning begin to develop even from the earlier stages of infancy. So, how can parents and caregivers provide children with play based educational activities that incorporate STEM concepts? Chances are, you probably already use STEM and don’t even realize it.
Science: When you drive cars down a ramp, you are giving children a head start on physics – gravity, speed, and velocity. Just remember to talk about what’s happening and ask open ended questions to encourage thought. Science can also be explored by simply showing a child how water goes into an ice cube tray and the cold air in the freezer changes its consistency into ice. Then if you leave the ice out it will melt back into water.
Technology: Have you ever given a child an old phone, computer keyboard, or remote control? Just playing pretend and “using” these tools gives children an early look at how technology influences our lives.
Engineering: Building towers helps children to understand spacial orientation, design, and problem solving.
Math: Did you know that playing with wooden blocks teaches beginning math skills? By showing children that two triangle blocks fit together to make one square, you are encouraging a very early understanding of fractions and geometry.
SINK OR FLOAT?
- Select 6-10 objects from around the house. Half should sink and half should float (rocks, toy boats, cups, balls, etc…). Bonus, at the end add a sponge into the water and talk about absorption!
- Fill a medium sized bucket, large Tupperware container, or sensory table with at least 3 inches of water.
- Make your hypothesis! Ask the child what they think will happen with each item. Will it float (stay at the top of the water)? Or will it sink (fall to the bottom)? Let the child hold each item and examine it as they please, then have them place it in the water. To help older children understand the concept you can read The Magic School Bus Ups And Downs: A Book About Floating And Sinking.
- Discuss the outcome with your child and continue on with more items as long as you like! Help preschoolers make a chart to record their data.
I hope this article helped answer your question, “What is STEM?” There are plenty of ways to get creative and expand ideas into full fledged projects that will be fun for all! Children can develop a love of STEM from even the simplest of activities. Come back to BBN&N’s blog next Thursday for another STEM activity to try with your children.
About The Author
Sarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.
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