STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. The thought of memorizing the periodic table and doing quadratic equations may make you shudder, but when introduced properly, young children can experience and enjoy STEM concepts because of their zest for learning and their innate curiosity about the world.
In addition, science & engineering concepts are some of the most natural and dynamic processes of learning that can occur during your child's day. Basketball not bouncing? Try to bounce it with the children before and after pumping it and then compare how high it bounces. Before pumping fresh air in the ball, ask, "Why isn't the ball bouncing?" Let children come up with ideas on what they think the ball needs to be able to bounce. Then ask something like, "What do you think will happen when..." and after pumping air, ask, "How is the ball different now? What has changed?" Based on the child's age, some vocabulary that might come up while observing is: heavier, lighter, harder, softer, bouncier, flat, bigger. Document what you and the children are learning and test out other types of balls. Do they react the same way? How did the original size of the ball affect the outcome? Did you have to pump the same amount of air into different sized balls? Why or why not? Is air the only thing that will make it bounce higher? Have children simmer over these concepts and if caring for a group, have each child bring in balls they have at home to test the next day. Document their findings so they can reflect on their experiences and make their learning visible.
Congratulations! You've just completed a science & engineering lesson on air and weight (and whatever else came up during the process of exploration and discovery). Make a comparison graph and now you're adding in a math component as well! Use the internet with the child/children to look up any information you may not be able to answer yourself and take a video and/or pictures of the process- you've also added in technology.
As you can see, early childhood is the best time to introduce these STEM concepts, as children have a natural desire to participate in hands on learning and can develop critical thinking skills when given the opportunity.
What our experienced Early Childhood Educators at BKC Academy do is provide engaging opportunities for preschool children to predict, explore, ask questions, experiment and form conclusions in a way the child can relate to. STEM, therefore, is not a daunting task of forced, rote, static learning, but is in fact a dynamic and inspirational way to learn by reasoning, predicting, hypothesizing and even inventing!
Now, who can shudder at this approach to learning?
Learn more about STEM here.
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