August 3, 2016
By: Laura Burton, Youth Program Director
S.T.E.A.M. (or “STEM”) is the new buzz when it comes to education. Are you looking for more ideas to get your family involved? That’s easy – you are probably already doing a large part of it!
S.T.E.A.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. It’s the AND that is the most important: the upcoming generations will be expected to think outside of the existing silos of each of those subjects independently.
The greatest way for you to make this happen for your child is to take the time to ask open-ended questions during activities that you are already doing together. For example, while making pancakes together on a weekend morning, ask your child what they think would happen if you didn’t add one of the ingredients.
The most important step is next: TRY IT! Resist the temptation to answer the question yourself or to correct their prediction. Instead, using the example introduced earlier, make a smaller second batch of pancake mix leaving out one of the ingredients! Follow the rest of the recipe and instructions and let your child EXPERIENCE (see, taste, feel) what happens to the pancakes with the missing ingredient!
But wait! The learning can’t stop here: Verbally entice your child to develop applications for their new knowlege. This step is critical to helping their brain store the information in a way that it can be retrieved and applied to future challenges. If your child sees and concludes that the pancakes without the baking powder did not rise, they might wonder what other recipes have baking powder in them for just that reason… go look them up together!
When it comes to S.T.E.A.M., the “experiment” does not have to complicated; it needs to be experiential and memorable! Having fun with learning will have the greatest impact of all!
Laura Burton is the Director of Youth Programs at The Connection and instructor of all of our S.T.E.A.M. classes. Her mantra of having fun is why her programs are so successful! If your child is ages 7-12, you might want to investigate the Solar STEAM Adventure happening August 22nd-24th, 9 am – Noon and our Fall STEAM classes which will be online in August.