What is STEAM? Why is it important? How can you do it at home?
What is STEAM? STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. It’s important for kids to develop an interest in STEAM and as parents you’re best positioned to help them do this.
Why is STEAM important? STEAM is important because it promotes critical thinking, problem solving and innovation. Studies have shown that kids who have developed a basic understanding in these subjects will be better prepared to meet the needs of the workforce in the future, which will lead to more opportunities and higher rates of success later on.
What if my child struggles with these subjects at school? Even kids who don’t feel confident in some subjects at school can greatly benefit from doing STEAM activities at home. It all comes down to interest and opportunities for discovery. Once kids have developed an interest in a topic their confidence in it increases as they begin to realize that they can excel in it. It is this realization that changes their opinion of that subject and their ability to master it. Ultimately, doing STEAM-based activities at home is a great way to build your child’s confidence in these subjects in an unintimidating and fun way.
Not an expert in STEAM? No problem, you don’t need to be. You don’t even need any fancy or expensive gadgets. You just need to provide your kids with opportunities to become engaged and to learn. You’ll also need a bit of information. Lucky for you, we’re experts in information, and you can be too.
Challenges are FUN
So, what can you do at home to promote STEAM learning? How about a challenge? Nothing inspires more creativity than a good old-fashioned competition. Try setting up a weekly challenge for the kids. It can be simple and fun. Set out supplies and an objective, you can even set a time limit. Then sit back and watch the creativity flow.
The emphasis here is to ‘sit back’. One of the most important things you can do when your child is creating is let them be. Honestly. Resist the urge to show them how to do it “the right way”. There is no right or wrong way to do something when it comes to these activities. Trial and error leads to discovery.
Here are some challenge ideas:
Free build: Put out supplies, create an objective and let the kids explore.
Example Objective: Build a freestanding structure. Materials: Paper rolls and tape.
Rube Goldberg Challenge: A Rube Goldberg Machine is a simple machine designed to complete a single task in a complicated way using a series of chain reactions. This engaging activity is designed to put their problem-solving skills to the test and is surprisingly straight forward to set-up. Put out various material and objects found around the house and then create an objective. It would also make a fantastic family activity.
Example objective: Roll a ball into a cup.
Here’s is a link to a video by OK Go to inspire you. https://vimeo.com/72389826
Focus on FUN
No matter what activities you decide to do together, the focus should be on fun. Seriously, don’t underestimate the importance of fun. Having fun ensures that kids are engaged in an activity and open to learning more. Fun is definitely the way to go. Think of it as the gateway to learning. Besides, when kids are ready to learn more, they’ll tell you. When they do, here are some resources to help you (help them):
- The Ottawa Public Library has a wonderful collection of STEAM inspired e-books. Here’s a link to a booklist by the Greenboro Library that will get you started.
- Here’s a link to a recent OPL blog post on STEM activities you can do with your kids from home.
- Ingenium: Formerly called the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, here you’ll find a great selection of science and technology activities that you can do with the whole family.
- Left Brain, Craft Brain Blog: A great website that has cool STEAM based activities for kids. You can also sign up to receive weekly emails filled with STEAM activity ideas and tips for the whole family.
Blog post contributed by Angela from our Greenboro branch.