Different ways New S.T.E.M. Techniques can Interest Kids Without Forcing them to Learn
Kids today are not guaranteed of getting a great education in science, technology, engineering, and math at most public schools in the United States- or so recent studies show. Chances are that common core classes aren’t focused enough to instill a lifelong interest in these fields for most kids. Parents can have a great deal of influence on their child’s later life by instilling simple principles and fun toys and games of new S.T.E.M. techniques – the Science of Learning. There are a lot of easy ways to foster a greater love of learning and exploration in S.T.E.M. subjects in children. In fact, STEMKids Toys and Games are designed to make learning not only fun for the child but a learning experience for the parent as well.
S.T.E.M. Toys and Games should be fun, the Child will Gravitate to the Subject that Interests them the most with New S.T.E.M. Techniques, that may be Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics or a Combination of Several
A group of Girl Scouts was recently asked what they thought about STEM subjects: Did they enjoy them? Did they think they are good at them? A resounding no was heard from the majority in the room. Yet when S.T.E.M. type activities were introduced to the same group (a real-life Bead for Speed game to mimic programming, for example), each one of them was involved and, yes, interested. They enjoyed the activities when they were presented as a game, a fun distraction, something to challenge skill and pit their skill against each other without pressure of “tests from adults”. When the same subject was presented as “learning about technology” or having to learn about “science facts” because there’s a test on Friday, the mood dropped to noticeable disinterest and near rebellion.
Many young girls, despite excellent math scores and report cards, say they are not good at math. Some girls seem less interested in robots than in a unicorn (which is okay — At age three to nine unicorns are still magic). There’s something about these subjects that make kids think they either love them or hate them absolutely—or that they’re great at them or terrible at them—there’s no middle ground.
There is also a gender stereotype that still exists under the surface in traditional toys of boys and girls, toys that push boys to math and engineering and girls to home studies. S.T.E.M. Toys and Games have no inherent gender bias. Gender bias doesn’t have to be an influencing factor in a Child’s educational life and future career choices any more, thanks in great part to S.T.E.M.-focused curriculums. When presented a different way like a STEMKids Toy or Game, kids might actually find that they do like these subjects. And that is the whole point of S.T.E.M. starting at the Pre-School level, before Gender bias can influence later educational, career and life choices.
It’s important not just because the areas of study that S.T.E.M. fields represent offer awesome job opportunities, but that our future depends on this generation of children excelling in these 4 areas. S.T.E.M. is about a spirit of experimenting and evaluating information objectively, of understanding our world a little bit more. These are valuable skills and mindsets to acquire, wherever the child goes next in life.
Beyond helping with their homework (or having them explain the futility of Common Core math), this innovative system can immerse today’s children in S.T.E.M. every day—without forcing it on them—and make it actually kind of cool. Unfortunately, parents can’t rely on public schools alone to get their children proficient in math, science, and the other S.T.E.M. subjects in today’s common core environment. This is not to criticize our math and science teachers, who are critical to children’s learning in these subjects, but are forced to teach in an outdated method from outdated books in an outdated system. Children will benefit, though, from more hands-on, self-directed activities outside of the classroom so the subjects become recreational rather than a chore.
What are 3 things that Parents can do to Stimulate Children through S.T.E.M.
Math and Science through Cooking
Math through Music and Poetry
Math through Shopping or Banking
Make S.T.E.M. Normal and Applicable to Everyday Life
Children who do not like Math or Science have come to think of these subjects as bad words, much like the word “taxes” leaves a bad taste in many adults’ mouths. They don’t realize that outside of the classroom, these subjects live in every aspect of our lives. Parents and adults dealing with children can point out Math and Science in everyday activities, such as:
Food Science, what a gift, this is the best science—experiments you can eat and enjoy when they are successful! Remember, this is well into the second millennium; boys do cook now-a-days! Children can learn chemistry, practice their math skills, and learn plant anatomy and other science lessons all from the comfort of the kitchen. A normal daily thing like explaining what happens when water boils, why toast burns, or why it makes a difference to melt butter if the results wanted from a batch of cookies are to be chewy. There are many ways to sneak in math and science without being a math teacher.
There are also many fine toys and games from STEMKids Toys available, all of which are designed to be fun, inclusive and teach without directly teaching. With toys and games specifically designed for S.T.E.M., research has gone into stimulating children’s interest in one or more of the 4 main areas and guiding them toward the area of interest that best suits their eventual carrier choice.
Math through Music Lessons or Reading and Understanding how Poetry Works:
Poetry is rhythmic and really just music in text form, and music is tightly connected to math. You might point out this fact to young children who may be amazed. If they are amazed, you have a hook to hang a math lesson on, and a budding musician or possibility a burdening poet to nurture. Another possibility is to just let them practice a simple musical instrument or read and explain certain aspects of what they are doing, while learn math unknowingly.
Math is Present on every Shopping and Banking Expedition:
First remember that any shopping or banking trip that a young child is allowed to come along on is a big deal to them anyway, so why not make it a learning experience? Any time an adult is dealing with money it is a good time to reinforce principles like the incredible effect of interest, how to make quick calculations and estimates in your head, or how to make comparisons (fractions and unit prices). It is amazing how much a young child with an interest in Math can pick up, and pick up quickly! Most of the math operations parents do with their children when dealing with money are simple, yet important ones. Teach children about money by acting like a bank, the child is never too young to learn if the interest in math is there.
S.T.E.M. Activities should be Interesting and Hands-On
Besides sneaking it into a child’s daily life, the most important thing is to encourage children to have fun while learning S.T.E.M. skills. For some children that might mean learning the science of slime, for others it might be inventing their own video game. Whatever project that is encouraged, don’t make it a lesson. Instead, focus on the experience. A few suggestions:
- Take trips to a museum or zoo. It doesn’t have to be a science museum in particular. Children’s museums tend to have S.T.E.M. exhibits and even history and art museums offer opportunities to learn about the history of technology, how things were made, and so on.?
- Play STEMKids toys and games with children. All STEMKids Toys and Games are designed to hold the interest of adults as well as children. The children of today are overloaded with self-centered one-person games and activities like Minecraft, and LEGO blocks that are making them bankrupt of new learning and human interaction. ?
- But perhaps you’ve got a budding engineer or coder on your hands if your kid likes these and similar “toys.” STEMKids Toys has a whole line of building projects that teach children engineering, while the child thinks they are just playing with another building toy.?
- Watch science and technology shows with children. Bill Nye, the Science Guy (which is on Netflix) and Mythbusters come to mind. By watching with children, the adult in the room can comment and lead discussions in such a way as to stimulate the mind and keep the discussion in the track of the science and technology show at hand, vastly enhancing the overall experience of the show.
One Lesson Learned from S.T.E.M. Research – De-emphasize Grades and Praise the Process
STEM fields are tough. They’re more rigorously graded than other subjects, and with test results such a huge focus in education today, students likely aren’t getting enough of the inspiring hands-on learning that leads to lasting interest. Instead, kids develop “math anxiety” and quit science because they don’t think they’re smart.
As with getting more girls into tech, one of the keys is to encourage children to think it’s worth giving it a good enough try before it becomes hard—and to push through even if it’s challenging. Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck’s research found that parents and teachers might be praising in a way that backfires:
They often praise the ability, the talent, or the intelligence too much. The opposite of this is the good process praise. This is praise for the process the child engages in—their hard work, trying many strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their use of errors to learn, their improvement.
Dweck conducted a study where she recorded videotapes of mothers interacting with babies when they were one, two, and three years old. The more the mothers gave process praise, the more their kids had a growth mindset and a desire for challenge five years later. “And now we’re finding how much better those kids are achieving even two years after that”.
“It doesn’t have to be outright praise. It can be as simple as doing a S.T.E.M.-based activity with your child and saying, “hey, how did you do that?” and be interested in the process” Dweck added.
That said, the goal isn’t to force S.T.E.M. subjects on children but to foster a love of them with children that have an aptitude to truly enjoy them (in addition to fostering their other interests and passions). It is very important to know when to back off a child as well. Forcing children to do math puzzles before he or she can understand how the math in the puzzle works is kind of like forcing them to eat all their spinach or no dessert. Spinach becomes a villain.
STEMKids Toys and Games Products are designed to engage adults with children, to make it fun for adults and children to actually play together. By interacting with a child in games or with toys that stimulate S.T.E.M. thinking, it may stimulate the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technologists. The world needs all the talent in these areas it can get and if toys and games aimed at the science and research around S.T.E.M can be a factor, STEMKids Toys is here to help!