Have you heard the term “STEM education” used in the media? You might wonder what it is and whether it’s something that preschoolers can do.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It refers to a way of learning where children engage with design, building, research, and discovery – and it can be absolutely age appropriate for preschoolers!
For example, says an article from Bright Horizons,
While building with blocks, children can build bridges and ramps, incorporating engineering and math. They can add a technology component by researching these on the computer. Outdoors, children could help solve the problem of getting water to a garden they helped to plant, drawing on their science and engineering knowledge. Incorporating the use of children’s garden tools like rakes, shovels, and a wheelbarrow build on this activity to provide an even broader STEM experience.
We enjoyed this video that will show you some fun hands-on activities you can do with your kids that relates to STEM.
What is it about STEM that has captured the attention of educators? And why engage these activities with very young children? The answer is simple: little brains are very receptive to learning about math and logic. We can capture the interest of children early by providing them with activities that engage not only their learning but their imagination. STEM can take the simple form of play: using materials to build, sorting, making patterns, growing things, investigating the natural world.
We also know that people with STEM skills are in demand in the work force. An article in Education Week says:
Regardless of the industry—manufacturing, utilities, construction, technology, financial services—employers are looking for a talent pipeline that can produce workers proficient in the STEM disciplines. Concepts at the heart of STEM—curiosity, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking—are in demand. They also happen to be innate in young children.
Now we know you aren’t thinking about your preschooler’s career prospects just yet. We aren’t either. But taking the long view, we can see how fun and interesting activities for young children can help shape young minds to be capable in these fields in the future. Using the natural environment, your child’s own toys, and everyday objects can help develop the lifelong processes of exploring, thinking, building, creating, guessing, hypothesizing, testing, problem-solving, and trying things out.