STEM education is crucial when it comes to a student’s eventual academic success, and learning doesn’t have to stop once your child finishes their final class of the day. In addition to being educational, STEM projects at home can be fun and engaging. Here are five ways to support STEM education for elementary students at home.
Most kids already have their favorite videos on YouTube or other platforms. But, if your child is going to be in front of the screen, give them some STEM videos to try watching. These can be a great way to continue your child’s education. You can even try to squeeze in a few STEM videos with educational content between some of the shows your family already enjoys. There’s a good chance your children will enjoy them and may even begin watching on their own.
Here is a list of 15 STEM YouTube channels you and your student might find interesting. Some other great channels to check out include Nat Geo Kids, Babble Dabble Do, Smarter Every Day, and Science Buddies.
Now that families are spending more time at home, having new and interesting things to do has become vitally important for brain stimulation and mental health. Since children are more likely to follow a path to STEM careers if they learn to love it when they are younger. Here are some fun apps you can download to phones, tablets and computers that will keep children entertained for hours. Letting you take care of the things that need to get done, all while they play AND learn.
Here is a list we think you’ll love as much as we do. From math games to health sciences, there is something here to engage any child and any interest. There is our go-to favorite, Khan Academy Kids, a new one that is so cute you’ll want to play it to on Play and Learn Science from PBS, and even something to help you dust off your stay-at-home math skills with Moose Math for iOS and Android. All the science and anatomy labs are fun too. Like K-5 Science for Kids, Science Lab for iOS and Android, and Human Body – Montessori Anatomy for iOS and Android. While we love all things energy, children don’t know exactly what they’ll love about energy until they explore all of the various things STEM has to offer.
MODEL THE ENVIRONMENT
Modeling the environment is also an excellent way to bring STEM into your home during this time of virtual learning. This can range from building cities with blocks to creating rivers and moats using clay or putty. When a child can visualize how STEM works, they’ll begin to recognize its existence in every aspect of the world. They’ll also come to realize its importance.
Constructing these models is a fun activity in itself. Working with their hands while doing these activities can also improve children’s motor skills. Are you looking to take STEM learning even further? Once the model is finished, ask what science, technology, math, and engineering principles are reflected in the structure.
CREATE A LEARNING GAME WITH TRIVIA CARDS
Children love flipping through trivia flashcards and testing their knowledge. It’s a way to have fun and for them to learn. While it is educational, the hope is that fun stays at the forefront of learning so children aren’t burnt out. The point is not to have your child memorize too many STEM facts and overload them – it’s simply to pique their interest and continue building their interest in the subjects.
Do flashcards sound boring? You can add another element to the game by writing out cards with some STEM facts and hiding them in secret places around the house like a game of Hide-and-Seek. Soon, your kids will be reciting these flashcards and always on the lookout for more. Remember, STEM covers everything from chemistry to engineering and mathematics. Plus, mixing up the subject matter is a perfect way to give them some exposure to so many different subjects they may have not known they’d like.
SUPPORT THEIR INTERESTS
When children are genuinely interested in a topic, they are much more eager to learn. If your child enjoys playing video games, ask how they think the game or app was created. If your child enjoys dancing, discuss how the human body converts food into energy. If your child is all about sports, try incorporating a short geometry lesson with the shape of the ball, the field and other parts of the game to show how it applies to everyday life. This is a much better approach than random STEM facts they might not be able to relate.
UTILIZING SUMMER AND WINTER BREAKS
Finally, don’t forget to make time for STEM education during the summer and winter breaks. Throughout the regular school year, students are likely busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities. However, they will have lots of free time on their breaks to pursue STEM. Their school district might offer STEM courses or camps they can attend. Local zoos, museums, and community centers are other places to check for STEM activities. Even during the time of COVID-19, organizations are offering tours online as ways to keep people interested and visiting.
You can also supplement these outside learning opportunities with STEM exploration at home. When you immerse your child in this field outside the classroom, they develop a natural curiosity for the world around them.
There are so many other ways to develop and support your child’s STEM education at home. But what works best will vary by child. However, these tips will give you a head start on getting your kids excited about STEM – even if you can’t leave the house.