How to engage in STEM at home with your child.
If you are like so many other parents who came to our Open House last week and confessed that their child is always asking a why question such as; why do mosquitoes bite people?
Why does the sun come up? Why did the brick sink mommy? As a parent, there are many different ways to respond. One way is to incorporate educational opportunities that encourage your child to think, create and innovate.
STEM which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is a term used by educators to focus children’s learning on the aforementioned disciplines. Parents like you can implement STEM. At home you have numerous opportunities to expose your young child to STEM related concepts, thus supporting the learning that takes place when children engage in areas such as engineering at the Kids Tinkering Studio.
Let us focus on the engineering perspective. Engineers use a general design process to identify and solve problems. This design process is open ended. You can also apply this design process at home.
1. Listen to your child's comments over a week and identify a topic that is relevant to your child. Perhaps he or she continually talks about big buildings, the garbage truck even the bus. This becomes the ideal topic for you to pursue with your child from a STEM perspective.
2. The next time your child asks a question about the topic or makes a comment, ask him or her to think about how an aspect of the product was created. If the topic is the garbage truck, ask your child how can the garbage truck hold so much garbage, do you think there are any other ways the garbage man can pick up the garbage? Who do you think designs the garbage truck? Could you improve upon the design? Let us create your design on paper.
3. By introducing the idea that most designs can be improved and that children have the potential to create a solution, you as a parent can begin to help your child think like an engineer. You also have the opportunity to expose him or her to the idea that engineers identify problems, attempt to find solutions, then implement the solution to determine if it works.
Simple questions presented by you as the parent can spark such a wealth of creativity in your child. Support your child’s creativity. Some children may want to take their design from the drawing board and try to implement it in the real world. Have design materials available at home; feel free to use resources from nature also or locate the necessary materials from your hardware with your child to make their design a reality. Have fun doing these creative projects with your child! Visit us at the Kids Tinkering Studio and be a part of our Saturday STEM programs, camps and school programs.