In recent months, there has been an increasing amount of focus on S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) based education for young children. The reason for this is the ever-growing demand for S.T.E.A.M. related jobs in an evolving American economy. In fact, a study by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that by 2018, 8 million jobs in the U.S. economy will require a college degree in a S.T.E.A.M. field. That being said, why is it so important to begin an education in S.T.E.A.M. early? The answer is simple: the more a person is exposed to something, the more familiar it becomes and the more proficient and interested he or she becomes in the topic. By getting young children excited about S.T.E.A.M. fields and curriculum, we can help to fill those 8 million degrees that are needed to fuel our nation.
However, this is easier said than done. The question remains: how do we go about getting our children interested in S.T.E.A.M.? S.T.E.A.M. activities and experiences can captivate children for fun and inspired learning. The best, and most engaging experiences, for children are hands-on and interactive. Listed below are a number of S.T.E.A.M. related activities that children can get excited about, based on creative learning projects at Stepping Stone School:
Design a Roller Coaster!
Cut a piece of insulated tubing in half to make two pieces of track that you can tape together. Start your track in a high place by taping it to the wall or a table or chair. Place a marble at the start of your track and roll it down. Challenge yourself by adding loop-de-loops and hills to your track. For an even greater challenge, try to create a track where the marble stops at the end without going off the track. For examples, see this tutorial.
Make it Explode!
There is nothing more exciting than an explosion to a child. We can all remember building volcanoes out of salt dough only to add vinegar and baking soda to make them erupt. There are many other experiments you can do with children that will lead to spectacular results. Elephant toothpaste is a great experiment that uses yeast as a catalyst and the results of putting Mentos in a diet soda bottle are quite spectacular.
Math Can Be Fun!
Learning about math does not have to involve sitting at a desk and memorizing multiplication tables! Sudoku puzzles are fun and engaging way to teach math as are mazes and puzzles that teach the critical math skill of spatial awareness. Cooking is another great way to learn about math (and science). If you need a cup of flour, give your child a quarter cup and ask how many of them they need to make one cup.
Stepping Stone School provides a structured learning environment for students to experience S.T.E.A.M. in an exciting an educational way. Our research-based curriculum is at the forefront of Early Childhood Education. With 19 campuses in Austin, Round Rock, and Central Texas, we offer childcare and afterschool learning for children 6 weeks to 13 years. For more information on our nationally recognized program or to schedule a campus tour, please call (512) 459-0258 or visit http://www.steppingstoneschool.com.