You’ve probably heard of STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering, and math. But what about STEAM?
The STEAM grouping brings all-important arts back into the equation. And including art subjects under the STEM umbrella reinforces the importance of creative thinking in solving real-world problems.
What are the benefits of STEM and STEAM?
Twenty years ago, schooling was much more focused on memorizing facts and processes. But now that we can answer just about any question with a Google search, education has changed.
Getting kids to think critically, evaluate situations, and apply knowledge to solve problems is the real challenge.
Careers in STEAM are rising at a rapid pace. And even jobs outside of these are becoming interdisciplinary — so even if your kids don’t end up in a STEM-based job, they may still need STEM skills to be successful.
For example, technological fluency has become a necessity in almost every job; as has the ability to innovate and collaborate across fields.
Incorporating STEAM learning into your child’s education will help open their minds and realize the potential of the world around them. It nurtures their curiosity and is a great creative outlet.
So how do you get them engaged?
8 STEM and STEAM activities you can do with your kids
From a very young age, kids are super curious about the world around them. Why not make the most of this curiosity by doing STEAM activities?
Then it’s time to jump in!
Here are some of the best STEAM activities you can do with your kids — even if you’re feeling a bit rusty yourself.
STEAM activities for elementary school kids
All you need for this engineering activity is a paper plate and some straws — simple!
Have your kids create a maze by gluing pieces of straw onto their plate. Don’t have straws? You can use paper to make small archways instead.
Once the maze is complete, they have to balance a marble on the plate and guide it through the maze.
We see clouds almost every day, but how are they really formed? This activity serves as a good entry point to learning about the environment, and it’s super easy to do.
All you need is a jar, water, ice, and some hairspray. From here, you can lead into a lesson on the water cycle and how the experiment you just did happens on a far larger scale in nature.
This is an excellent rainy-day activity. First, gather up all the cardboard, paper, plastic cups and plates, and empty toilet rolls you’ve got lying around the house.
Then, challenge your kids to make their own functional roller coaster that you can run a ping pong ball through. Encourage them to draw diagrams and plan out their design — just like a real engineer. Let their imaginations run wild and they should end up with a pretty cool structure.
STEAM activities for middle schoolers
The concept of coding is tricky to get your head around at first. But just an hour or two is enough to make your kids realize how fun it is.
The best place to start is with Scratch — a free online programming platform developed by MIT, to help young people get started with coding.
Check out our Explore Coding worksheet bundle, which will explain everything you and your kids need to know about Scratch. Then they can get started creating interactive stories, games, animations, and more.
This explosive experiment is a fun afternoon activity that incorporates a few basic elements of STEM.
They’ll need to use math and engineering to build the rocket, then there’s the scientific element of the chemical reaction as well.
Does your kid love Pixar? Who doesn’t. And these films are a fantastic example of STEAM in action. Stop-motion videos and animations are a great way to introduce kids to the wonders of technology, while pushing their creativity to the limit as well!
Apps like Stop Motion Studio or Flipaclip are excellent for this. Middle schoolers can start by using toys on a white backdrop to “act out” stop motion scenes, and then progress from there as they become more confident with the software.
STEAM activities for high schoolers
Set engineering challenges
Being a good engineer is all about applying math and physics, along with a bit of creativity, to help solve a problem.
Flex your teens’ engineering muscles by setting them daily engineering challenges. For example, ask them to use index cards to create a bridge that will support the weight of a toy car.
You can even use household items to build a contraption that’ll protect an egg when it’s dropped out a second-floor window. Or make a catapult that launches a rock hard enough to hit a certain target.
Here are some more engineering ideas to get you started.
Create things with coding
Once your student is past middle school, most kid-friendly coding lessons can be a little too simple. Rather than just learning skills, teens will want to learn to be able to build or do something they would actually use — like an app or game.
And they can!
- Vidcode is a very teen-friendly programming platform, one that focuses on both creativity and strategic thinking.
- App Inventor gives teens everything they need to make their own Android app.
- Alice is a desktop app for students who are already comfortable with coding, and teaches how to make games and animations.
- From there they can progress to Codecademy, which is used by adults around the world as an intro to new coding languages.
Get your kid(s) engaged in STEAM and STEM activities today, and who knows how we’ll all benefit from their ideas in the future.
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