by Lila Mago
In an age of new ideas and complex problems, it is important to teach the newest generation how to invent and create when given new information. The studies of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, often shortened to STEM, are essential to how we function today as well as how we will function in the future. These fields require an active and curious mind, one that is well adapted to the challenges of problem solving. By encouraging participation in STEM related activities from a young age, children today will be better equipped to solve the problems of the future. The incorporation of a STEM filled curriculum within a child’s education helps “create critical thinkers, increase science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators” as the U.S. Department of Education puts it. But most importantly, engaging in STEM activities is really fun.
Here at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, we believe that STEM education is vital to the development of a healthy and balanced mind within a child. Several exhibits within the museum promote the usage of a child’s imaginative mindset to complete STEM related activities. Two of these examples include ‘BlockMania!’ on the first floor allowing kids to create with blocks and access their engineering side and ‘Pit Stop’ on the third which lets kids race cars. Because of the museum’s temporary closure due to the current situation, we have made a constant effort to provide engaging projects through our DIY Projects and Activities, many of which encourage STEM fluency. Below, we have provided some tips on how to incorporate STEM into your child’s life.
An exploration of our wondrous planet, science provides kids with a chance to better understand their surroundings as well as satisfy their curiosity. The promotion of science at home can include activities such as raising a plant, reading a science related book, watching a documentary/science focused program on television, or simply looking at the stars at night. Our CMoP DIY Videos which cater to science are: Radical Rainbows, Things That Fly, Unicorn Dip, Straw Wrapper Wiggly Worm, Penny Surface Tension Game, Color Mixing, Windsock, Ice Cream in a Bag, Leaf Rubbings
As the use of technology is increasingly incorporated into our lifestyles, it is important to communicate to our children how maintaining moderation when using technology is key to a balanced learning environment. Technology is important in that it allows us to connect with places outside of our home as well as effectively practice and develop new skills. Some examples of this could be watching videos of machines that help our everyday lives such as garbage trucks or exploring coding through several kids’ coding programs. However, knowing the amount of technology children are exposed to everyday, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix makes an effort to remain technology free and emphasize the power of learning through play without screens.
Echoes of engineering can be found throughout any child’s play area. Allow your child to dig deeper into their creative side and build with any supplies you might have lying around the house. By helping them create and develop a range of projects, for example: a maze, a boat made of old cardboard, a LEGO house, they are exposed to the genius of the engineering world. CMoP DIY Videos which discuss engineering are Marshmallow Construction, Straw Cutting Activity, Things That Fly, Origami Bunny, Upside Down Cars, Thing-a-ma-jig, Art Supply Organizer, Spinning Drum, Puppets, Windsock, Spinning Top, and Fort Building.
A lot of kids experience a bit of hesitation when it comes to the subject of math, but the best thing to do as a parent is to be consistently supportive. By taking the time to talk through a problem slowly or drawing a picture to illustrate the problem, your child will open up to more possibilities within the subject of math as well as STEM related activities. Promoting a positive mindset when finding solutions will help astronomically. CMoP videos which incorporate math are: Magnificent Mini Book, Non-Standard Measuring, and Tricks With Sticks.
Promoting STEM in your child’s life can be as simple as explaining why the sun rises and sets to putting together fun and engaging activities. Either way, the promotion of STEM in a child’s life will enhance their education and imagination.
About the Author
Lila is a high school student in Phoenix who loves to write and grew up playing in CMoP’s Noodle Forest!