How to get your kids excited about STEM!
STEM is a concept that’s actually as simple as the word itself. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are a set of basic critical thinking and problem solving skills that help with an easier time in school to doing well in the workplace. While the subjects are not new, the need for a higher understanding of them is now growing. And without complicating it too much, the best time to start familiarising your kids with them is while they’re young, maybe even before they start school.
We created the new VertiPlay STEM Marble Run with this in mind. A fun, super challenging game that lets your child think and focus on how to navigate the marble through an obstacle course, honing STEM skills in the process. With the many different parts, they can create an endless number of routes for the marble, adjusting and extending them to change the marble’s speed and efficiency. It also fits neatly on your wall which means less floor-clutter! Have play dates around the Marble Run to encourage your child to interact with others and make it a friendly competition. In fact, mom blogger Jacinth loved this new game so much, she reviewed it here!
In addition, there are so many ways in which you can encourage STEM skills in your child, right at home with everyday tools. We put together a simple list of enjoyable STEM-focussed activities you can do with your kids while they’re young. You are probably already doing some of these so let us know if you have more ideas!
1. Get your school going children (ages 4 to 5 onwards) involved in simple and cooking and baking to understand chemical reactions, the way food changes colour with heat, temperature and other ingredients.
2. For preschoolers or children around 3 to 4 years of age, bath time with different kinds of toys bring alive the concepts of volume and weight. They may not understand the concepts at this stage, but familiarising them with the words when filling and emptying a vessel of water is a good start.
3. Try some simple experiments at home like doing a shadow puppet show with your kids or planting a seed for a quick-growing plant to familiarise them with concepts like photosynthesis and the importance of water and sunlight.
4. Encourage your child to notice changes in weather, different shadows at different times in the day and if you go on vacations, new and unusual landscapes also teach them a lot about the natural world.
5. Make active interaction with technology possible by simple things like asking your child to help with navigation through GPS when you’re driving. Kid-friendly audio books and podcasts are also a great way to engage with technology particularly while they’re toddlers and getting a grasp on languages.
6. Scientific concepts and basic physics terms can be made easier with simple questions like “Why does the ball fall downwards?” to bring up the term 'gravity' or “what’s another word for speed” to teach them about velocity while playing with the Marble Run!
7. Encourage your little engineer to build more things with craft paper, leftover packing material or old boxes, which unleashes creativity and their artistic side too! DIY projects like making their own bird feeder are a fun activity to learn more about it too.
Image: Getty Images
8. Make numbers fun right from the toddler phase so that the very common fear of numbers doesn’t get ingrained in your child’s mind. At mealtimes, ask your child to count the number of green beans (maybe the beans will even get eaten!) on everyone’s plate. If possible, get him or her to set the table with the correct number of (unbreakable) plates and forks. Use this time for some simple addition and subtraction questions too, when it won’t feel like homework.
Image: Health Promoting Schools
9. Go grocery shopping together and get them involved at the cashier, counting out the correct change or calculating how much you need to get back.
10. While driving, play a numbers game like “how many red cars did you see?” or “how many times did we stop at a red light?”. Numbers are everywhere and therefore the opportunities to raise your child’s interest in them are also endless
What else can be done to make kids excited about STEM skills? Do you have ideas we haven’t mentioned here? Leave a comment and let us know!