Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—often referred to as STEM—should be fun and exciting subjects for preschoolers. Many early educators and caregivers are learning just how beneficial STEM programs are for children. STEM programs expose children to new perspectives and ways of thinking. They also help shape kids’ worldviews by improving their critical thinking and analytical skills as well as teaching them to solve problems.
In addition to its ability to improve intellectual ability, STEM can be a lot of fun! Here are some ways to get children interested in STEM programs while teaching them about various STEM-centered career paths.
Make STEM Part of Everyday Life
Although many schools have a dedicated STEM curriculum, STEM does not have to follow a lesson plan. STEM can be found in everyday activities. For example, STEM is used in cooking. Many science experiments use food and chemical reactions to demonstrate the science behind the things we eat.
Try a candy chemistry experiment to help teach children about science and math. Instructors or parents can explain what happens when candy is exposed to heat to teach kids about the processes that change its shape. Explaining something as simple as how water boils can also help young children develop an interest in STEM.
Visit a Museum
Parents, caregivers, or teachers can take children on a STEM-focused field trip to a museum or a science center. Museums often have STEM exhibits that are interesting and interactive, making them perfect for introducing STEM concepts to young children. Many museums have exhibits and activities that are suitable for all ages, so the entire family can learn about STEM together.
Play STEM Games
When it comes to having fun, there are a variety of STEM-related toys and games available for kids of all ages. Lego blocks are a great outlet for STEM play. Children can use them to build a wide variety of structures. This helps introduce kids to the engineering side of STEM and show them that learning can be fun.
Similarly, Minecraft is a STEM game for elementary-age children. Though your child probably doesn’t realize it, they work with math and engineering concepts in this game.
Always encourage collaboration, which is one of the best things about STEM. When performing experiments and other STEM activities, children can work in teams to build and design different structures. A collaborative environment enables young children to develop social skills while also sharing their creative ideas.
Additionally, kids who complete activities in a group setting can learn from others in a way that is fun and doesn’t feel like work. For preschoolers and kindergarteners, one of the most popular collaborative STEM activities involves giving children marshmallows and toothpicks and allowing them to create their own structures. See Little Sunshine’s similar example here.
Watch Scientific Videos and Shows
Numerous shows and YouTube video series focus on science and science-related material. One of the most popular shows is Bill Nye the Science Guy, which is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. Clips of many of his experiments are also available for free on YouTube. The show demonstrates different types of science experiments and covers a variety of topics in a fun and engaging way.
There are other science shows that can be found on Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming platforms which are designed to make science entertaining and interesting. Seeing a visual representation of STEM is yet another way young children can learn about science and technology.
Attend STEM-Specific Events
Many modern schools are replacing their yearly science events with STEM fairs. There are many hands-on activities that children can engage in at these events, including games, experiments, demonstrations, and hands-on learning activities. STEM fairs allow both younger and older students to work together on activities such as coding and science experiments.
Get Kids Interested at a Young Age
Many of the interests that children already have feature STEM principles. If children show interest in music or playing an instrument, they are using math. In art class, blending colors to create new ones is a STEM concept. Roller coaster design relies on physics. Point out the STEM-related objects that surround us every day and let your child know that many of their favorite activities are rooted in STEM.
These are just a few of the best ways to get kids interested in STEM. The overarching goal is to introduce children to STEM concepts without making it seem like a chore. By introducing STEM to children in a fun yet educational way, they will be more likely to develop a love for these fields that will follow them into adulthood.
Never force your kids to learn about STEM. Instead, see what interests them naturally and see if there is a way to tie their interests to STEM. Get the family involved by casually showing kids how STEM is present in our daily lives, but always make sure it is done in a lighthearted way that doesn’t seem forced. By using some of the tips outlined here, you can open a whole new world of learning for your kids.