Welcome back to another blog post. This week we are looking at this new concept of STEM. “What is that?” I heard you say. Well, believe it or not, you wouldn’t be alone in asking this question.
To put it simply STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This acronym has also recently branched out to include an ‘a’- STEAM- including ‘a’ for arts. STE(A)M is an approach to learning that involves each of these learning areas. In essence it’s a way of learning that applies science, technology, engineering, mathematic concepts to solve real life problems/lessons.
Take for example the bridge building activity we did as children. Do you remember it? In small groups we were given a pile of materials. For example- newspaper, sticky tape, paddle pop stick and then asked to build a bridge. At the end of the session, the teacher would then start increasing the amount of weight on the bridge. The group whose bridge held the most weight won. This was a wonderful example of STE(A)M as it required us to think about the engineering concepts of weight distribution and design strength. It also required us to consider which materials were stronger. On top this there was an art to how it looked.
Today our world has moved from utilising only concrete objects (e.g. think paper filling systems in the workplace) to additionally incorporating electronic technology (e.g. computer filling systems). As a result our classrooms in the 1990’s began to including these technological items of equipment and train the generation to use them. Now in the 2010’s-2020’s, we are not only using the concrete objects and the technological objects but we are also teaching children how to build these as well. Otherwise known as coding. This generation are learning such ideas as to how to build apps using mathematic formulas and computer coding scripts (a whole other language). They are learning the art of filming footage, the technology of splicing scenes and then rearranging these to include music, in order to become vlog videos and they are learning to program steps in order to operate “bee bots” and drones. A world away from the days of old.
However, what do we do if all of this seems beyond our understanding? Coding, splicing, bee bots…..huh?!? What is that?
Firstly, don’t freak out. Even as a teacher myself, it can sometimes seem overwhelming with the changes in technology. The main thing is that learning and problem solving doesn’t just involve one area of discipline anymore (e.g. mathematics). We now incorporate different key principles/methods from the STE(A)M subjects to find solutions.
So….saying all of that, what does it mean for your children at home? It means that if they are interested in trying some new problem solving activities, there are plenty to test out to stretch the understanding, reasoning and solution finding skills.
Below you will find a few links to different websites offering examples of STE(A)M activities you can do at home. Most do not require expensive technology equipment such as ipads but rather simple everyday materials.
So from here, jump online, have a look and enjoy some amazing, fun and brain thinking activities with your children.
Miss B xoxo
- 10 Simple STEM Activities for Kids That Will Stimulate Young Minds
- STEM Activities for kids
- Star Portal
- 36 Resources for STEM Project-Based Learning Activities
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