Many of today’s most in-demand careers require an education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). As parents and grandparents, we can assist in developing the knowledge and skills to succeed in these areas by fostering a love of STEM activities.
What STEM activities can I do with my child?
One of the very best ways to give your child a good start in STEM is to take them outside. As early as you like, begin going on nature walks. Allow them to collect things in a bag – leaves, sticks, stones, fossils, flowers, etc. Spread the items out, look at each one and have a conversation about how they are similar or different. Ask questions like - Which ones might go together (sticks, leaves)? How do they feel (smooth, rough)? You can also discuss the color, shape and size of the items.
As your child grows older, they can help you plant garden, water the garden, pull the weeds and you can discuss the different steps of gardening and why each step is important as you are doing this activity together. As you continue to do these outdoor activities, start asking them why? And they start becoming the expert.
A fun indoor activity is cooking together. Young children can learn how to measure and mix. Older children can understand the concept of how certain food reacts to different temperatures. From making toast to soufflés, it involves STEM.
As your child grows older, allow them to plan and cook a meal under your supervisor. Give them a budget amount for the cost of the meal, take them to the grocery to buy what food and ingredients needed and after the meal is cooked and eaten, it is perfectly OK to help them with the cleanup!
A good family activity is to visit a science museum. Modern science museums have interactive stations where your child can not only see, but do. Most schools take students to a museum at least once, but your child will benefit from having your undivided attention in an unrushed environment with repeat trips to explore in depth.
TV/Computer time. It is my belief that most TV and technology should be purposeful. Limit TV and fun computer/video games. Try to select educational programming that is engaging such as the History or Discovery channels.
Fostering a love of STEM is not difficult, but it does require your participation. Not only will you be preparing your child to succeed, you will create great memories.