From the time a child is born they are being taught an array of life skills. Originally, they are simple things such as walking and talking. However, the lessons do not always stop there for many of these impressionable minds. They are constantly listening, observing and taking in all of the ideas they are exposed to. It is because of their curious nature that exposing them to STEM before they even start kindergarten can be an effective way to kickstart their learning.
The United States consistently ranks lower than other countries in STEM subjects. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks 31 countries based on classroom skills and, in 2016, the United States did not break into the top ten in science or math. In math, the United States ranked 25th. In science, students ranked only slightly higher at 17th. These statistics tell us that in STEM curriculum, American students are not competing well amongst the top students globally.
In a technologically driven world, it is important that we send the next generation into the workforce prepared for the jobs that they will be filling. In order to increase STEM literacy, educators and parents across the United States need to make a point to introduce science, technology, engineering and math into children’s everyday life, even before they have started Kindergarten.
Education Weekly writer Ed Chesloff talked about the importance of STEM education in the early stages of childhood. Chesloff said, “ there is an exciting and powerful link between STEM and early childhood. Research confirms that the brain is particularly receptive to learning math and logic between the ages of 1 and 4, and that early math skills are the most powerful predictors of later learning.”
With such strong evidence of what early STEM competency can do for young minds, many companies have begun offering STEM programs, games and activities for kids.
Sesame Street is a childhood entertainment show that has been around for over 50 years. Their target age range is children between three-and-five-years-old and their shows are full of cute, animated characters. However, Sesame Street does not simply just entertain young children. On their website, they have a STEM page. Little Discoverers introduces science, technology, engineering and math to preschool kids in a fun, engaging way.
They offer videos and activities to get kids interested in STEM before their formal education has even begun.
The videos introduce concepts such as science experiments, engineering, measurement, properties of matter, force and motion and sink and float. These are all topics far beyond the typical knowledge of preschool aged children; yet, they are able to introduce it in a way that the kids are able to understand.
Each of the video topics has a corresponding activity that the kids can do either at home or with their educator. Each STEM activity kit is equipped with key vocabulary, goals, materials and step-by-step instructions on how to conduct the lesson. The lesson plan comes on a printable document that the child can use to write down all of their findings and observations. These easy to implement and fun activities are a great way to stimulate STEM learning both at school and in the home.
Sesame Street has created an easy way to engage three-to-five-year-old kids in STEM topics. This early start to science, technology, engineering and math will benefit these children as they continue throughout the education system and into their future professions. By starting them at such a young age, this will allow them to feel comfortable with these subjects and hopefully create a love for them that will continue.
The STEM Laboratory also offers preschool STEM activities that are easy to implement in the classroom or at home. These STEM activities present more complex science, technology, engineering and math concepts to children in a way that they are able to fully understand. These hands-on activities present the curriculum in a way that makes learning for pre-kindergarten kids exciting.
“These preschool STEM activities will keep little ones busy and teach them the basics of STEM they’ll need to succeed later in life. Your preschoolers might just be the next best engineer, astronaut, or scientist,” the STEM Laboratory said.
What makes the STEM Laboratory an excellent source for STEM activities is the variety of content. From fizzing rainbows to creating egg shell gardens, they offer STEM activities for all children’s interests and skill levels.
With a detailed materials list and step-by-step instructions, helping your child improve their STEM competency has never been easier. Each experiment on the STEM Laboratory links to another credible STEM or STEAM education website that offers more options to engage in real-world science, technology, engineering and math issues.
One commonly linked website is STEAMsational. This website allows you to narrow your search on the website depending on what aspect of STEAM you want to experiment with. They offer activities in: science, technology, engineering, art/design and math. With so many options, children’s educational fun never has to stop, and STEAMsational makes sure of that.
For the summer months, STEAMsational has created a summer calendar that can be downloaded for free off of their website. This gives parents and children a 25 day STEM calendar that suggests a different STEM activity every day. By participating in STEM prior to entering the school year, children will start their educational experience strong with a hunger to learn more.