My boys both have an incredible interest in STEM topics, but especially E. Since he is starting school this year, we really want to find ways to encourage him to keep pursuing his passion for STEM education, both at home and for school.
We love STEM learning and I am excited to partner with Everywhere Agency and Orkin to bring you this STEM resource.
What is STEM education? STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It works on all four topics together as a whole and applies them to everyday life with a lot of hands-on activities. It’s all about learning and understanding how things work, and using creativity and applied knowledge to create new things. As technology advances, I see a great importance in encouraging children to pursue STEM topics, especially if they are currently passionate about it, as E is.
10 Ways to Encourage STEM Education At Home and School
1. Educational Toys
There are so many tools and toys that encourage STEM education. Some of our favorites are:
- Building bricks (LEGO Technic and K-nex are great)
- Lincoln Logs
- Model kits
- Marble Run
- Train/car tracks
- Wooden blocks
- Magnetic building sets
Read my list of Our Favorite Math and Engineering Manipulatives for more ideas.
2. STEM Activities
You can do so many fun STEM education activities right at home and at school:
- Kitchen science (things like baking soda volcanoes, learning about density)
- Play dough
- Build a fort
- Pine car build and race
Read my list of fun play dough activities.
Keep these STEM-friendly tools at home for activities:
- Craft sticks
- Play dough
- Plastic cups
- Jars with lids
- Paper rolls
- Pipe cleaners
- Cardboard boxes
- Magnifying glass
3. STEM Kits
You can purchase kits that already work on STEM education concepts. Here are some of our favorites:
4. School STEM Education Programs
Many schools offer great STEM education programs for children of all ages. Even if you homeschool, like we do, your child should be able to attend certain classes like this in most public schools (I did this for a Japanese class once I began school at home.). I remember growing up and creating large roller coasters with folded paper, tape, and marbles and building balsa wood buildings to see what would withstand an electronically-generated earthquake. We had some great programs and I absolutely loved all the activities. This is something I believe every child should have the opportunity to experience, and Orkin is helping to make that possible.
Since Orkin began its Start with Science initiative, they have donated over $325,000 and funded over 1400 projects in 123,000 public and charter schools across the United States! They have provided many of the necessary tools and materials needed to make these programs possible and foster a love for STEM in children.
Orkin Start with Science will let you fund these in-class experiences to bring awareness to the Start with Science program and help make the teachers’ projects possible. Enter at the end of the post for a chance to win $50 to donate to the STEM education program of your choice via DonorsChoose.org. Don’t know what program to donate to? I donated to Spring Creek Elementary School (enter zip code 27534). They are a low-income school and have some fun programs for young children.
5. Video/Board Games
You can find some great games that teach STEM concepts, and these can often be enjoyed as a family.
- LeapPad and STEM games (such as Transformers Rescue Bots)
- U-Build games
6. Magazine/Online Subscriptions and Books
Books are a great place to dive in and learn, and there are several great magazines and online programs too.
- Popular Mechanics Magazine
- National Geographic Kids Magazine
- Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr Magazine
- LEGO Club Magazine
- SuperScience Magazine
- Scholastic MATH Magazine
- Engineering is Elementary
- Adventures in Math
- The Curious Kids Science Book
- STEAM Kids book
7. TV Shows/Videos
These TV shows make STEM education so much fun:
- Sid the Science Kid
- Team Umizoomi
- Magic School Bus
- How It’s Made
- Myth Busters
- Popular Mechanics
- Slooh (online)
- NASA (online)
8. Museums and Centers
You can visit many great museums and centers all over. Here are some to consider:
- Children’s museums (these have a lot of hands-on learning activities, especially STEM)
- Natural science museums
- Smithsonian museums
- Nature centers
- Rescue Zoos
- Garden centers
- National parks
9. Explore and Answer Questions
If your child is like mine, he asks questions about everything. You may not have the answer, or maybe you do. Take these opportunities to learn and explore each question together, rather than brushing it off or responding with, “Because it just does.” If your child asks, “Will this bouncy ball sink if I put it in water?” then try it out! If your child asks, “Why is the sky black at night?” answer the question if you know why or find answers by looking for more information in books and online!
10. Encourage Creativity and Individuality
Let your child be unique! While we love kits and STEM activities that are led by books or by the teacher, there must always be room for creativity and individuality. This is how new things are discovered and new creations are made. We love to just hand our son a box of anything and see what he creates. Most times, he astounds us and builds things with incredible attention to detail–things that actually work. He has so many great stories to tell and ideas for inventions, so sometimes we just give him tools to create and explore with and let him do his thing without direction and see what he comes up with.
Even if you are using a kit, if your child has an idea he wants to try out to improve performance or just see if his experiment might work, let him try it out! You might be surprised at the findings. Creating a pine car? Allow your child’s style to shine in the design and paint job. We love adding art to STEM activities (also known as STEAM).
Visit Orkin Start with Science. Where will you make your donation? Did you have any favorite class science experiments growing up? Share with me in the comments!