5 Ways to Spark Your Child’s Interest in STEM
Many children view STEM subjects as difficult and boring. This is often because they haven’t had a lot of experience with practical activities.
When engaging in experiments that involve hands-on learning in STEM most kids will respond with enthusiasm. The trick is to find the balance between fun and learning, and this can be difficult for teachers in a jam-packed curriculum.
Fortunately, there are many activities children can do at home to get them interested in STEM.
Cooking with your child is a perfect opportunity to explain basic processes to them and teach them skills such as measuring, weighing and mixing.
According to Bethany Brookshire, author of Cookie Science, “Science is a process, a way of looking at the world, asking questions and finding answers. You can do that with a little flour, sugar, a few eggs and an oven.”
In her book and online posts, Brookshire goes through all the steps of a science experiment when baking cookies to show how tweaking ingredients will alter the outcome. She explains how to analyse results and write them up for a presentation.
Other fun cooking projects you can do with your child include making whipped cream, marshmallows and edible candles.
STEM Games and Toys
Minecraft and Lego aren’t just fun for kids, they’re also valuable learning tools.
Structured block play with Lego bricks help kids develop a range of skills such as spatial ability, problem solving and the ability to visualise and manipulate 3-D objects imaginatively. Lego has also developed more sophisticated toys to help nurture STEM skills, such as the Lego Mindstorms EV3 which is a 601-piece robot that kids assemble and program to walk, talk and perform a range of tasks.
In Minecraft: Education Edition students get the chance to learn all about electrical circuits, switches and levers. Using the Minecraft tool Redstone they can create their own farming systems, explore and harness energy and even design an ecosystem.
There are many excellent science programs aimed at children which you can watch together to help foster a love of STEM. Bill Nye the Science Guy is a favourite for kids as he explains concepts in a humorous way that makes them easy to understand. Mythbusters is fun and shows how to test hypotheses and measure results in innovative ways.
Youtube has a Kids Science channel with dozens of videos of science experiments kids can do at home. Why not get your child to film their experiments, explaining each step for the viewer. This will help them understand the scientific process in a concrete way.
Giving kids permission to make a mess in the name of science is a sure fire way to get them interested in STEM. With some baking soda, vinegar, paint and plastic bags kids can make exploding baggies and create their own abstract artwork at the same time.
A papier-mache volcano which explodes is very messy and exciting, and children can make elephant’s toothpaste by combining a few simple household ingredients.
Museums and Libraries
Museums and libraries often hold interactive science exhibitions for children to spark an interest in STEM. The Australian Museum in Sydney has an education program running from 15 -22 August 2020 for Science Week with many great presentations and experiments for kids to get involved with.
When parents show enthusiasm about STEM, kids will too.