What Really is S.T.E.M. in Early Childhood?

Jan 20, 2024 | Early Childhood

STEM is such a popular buzzword in education today. You hear schools, Youtube channels, apps, and toys all claim they promote STEM.

But what is it, why is it important, and how can we actually help kids learn about it?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These are all areas of study that are an integral part of our ever changing world.

Ok, but what does that mean for preschoolers?

Child playing with blocksFor young children, STEM consists of activities and experiences that foster inquiry, curiosity, and problem solving. They’re figuring out how the world works, and why.

Before kids learn about the states of matter or how to code, they need to learn how to be investigators. How to ask questions and then look for the answers. How to make predictions, gather information, and then decide if they were right or not.

But wait, this sounds a lot like the scientific method!

Because it is! Learning to make an educated guess, see if it’s correct, and then change their mind if it isn’t. That’s what STEM is about and that’s what being a world changer is all about.

At AMPed, every student is a scientist, an investigator, and an engineer. We ask questions together, and find the answers together.

This could sound like…

What happens when I…?
How did that get in there?
How many more can I add?
Why does it do that?
What if we try….?

How can I build STEM skills at HOME?

Child playing with playdohSTEM is EVERYWHERE! Slow down and take a closer look at our world, ideally from about 3 feet off the ground (like a preschooler!) Think about the things that they “get into” that you sometimes wish they wouldn’t. Pouring things out. Snooping through containers of small objects, squishing and mixing their food. These are all examples of them trying to learn about their world. Lets help them do that safely and effectively instead of hearing “NO, don’t make a mess!” whenever they try.

Try these ideas to build STEM skills at home!

Girls playing with tools

  • Set your kiddo up with a box of empty recyclables and their lids, removed. Let them figure out which lid goes on which bottle.
  • With a learning tower or sturdy step stool, put them in front of a sink with a trickle of water running and some cups, spoons, and bowls.
  • Collect leaves in your yard or at the park and go on an expedition trying to figure out what tree or bush they each came from.
  • Sit down with a container of small items and just “snoop”. Buttons, large beads, pens…the (safe) contents of your junk drawer even. “Wow, this one is shiny. Do you see any more shiny ones?” “This eraser fits inside the toilet paper tube. What else will fit?”
  • Play MESSY kitchen. Give kids some “ingredients” and let them make potions, mixtures, and concoctions of all kinds and see what happens. Try dry pantry staples to start. Adding water and “wet” food gets messy but is SUPER fun. We like to do these outside or sitting on a shower curtain liner at AMPed.

The possibilities are endless. Anything that gets kids saying “I wonder… Why? …. And especially “WOAH!” is helping them learn and build their problem solving skills.

Follow AMPed Education on Facebook for lots more ideas!

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