STEM Activities for elementary school children are extremely important with regards to their educational future. We hear a lot about the prevalence of STEM careers in the modern age. Although science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have always been important subjects, they are even stronger when they’re together — and when they are introduced starting at a younger age. In fact, research shows that early STEM education can improve learning abilities and narrow achievement gaps. It can also promote an interest in those currently in-demand fields, which can set your child up for success later in life.
Mere exposure to math class or science lab may not be enough to stimulate your child’s passions. STEM programs are starting to emerge in many educational facilities, but our system still has a long way to go. That’s why developing STEM activities for elementary school children is so essential. STEM activities can bridge these subject areas by creating a sense of curiosity about the world and focusing on how these areas of learning are connected.
4 STEM Activities for Elementary School Children
Whether these STEM activities for elementary school children are conducted in the classroom or at home, your child’s mind will be stimulated in new and exciting ways. Not only can activities like these frame subjects like science and math as being fun, but they can also grant access to otherwise ignored areas like engineering and technology. By encouraging early interest in these disciplines, your child will enjoy exploring beyond their own comfort zone and will develop a true love of learning — lifelong lessons that will serve them well in the future.
SCIENCE: Explore the Backyard
Intriguing science experiments can be a lot of fun, but one of the easiest ways to first introduce the concept of science to young kids is through biology — the study of living things. What better way to learn about all the plants and animals that inhabit our ecosystem than to start with your own backyard? Examining the different species of trees and their changing leaves, finding insects to study, or looking up at the sky to learn about the different cloud formations can all be great ways to introduce scientific concepts in a way that appeals to a child’s natural curiosity about how and why the world works.
Consider discussing the diversity of animals in your area; take note of the animals you come across while exploring (and even the ones you didn’t spot) and talk about the ways in which they are classified or how their activities impact the ability of other species to thrive.
TECHNOLOGY: Make Some Moldable Circuits
It can be a challenge to zero in on technology activities that young students will grasp, though this area is probably more vast than you might think. And since it’s likely that kids actually utilize technological gadgets on a daily basis, it may not be so difficult to make the leap from pure fun to an activity with an educational twist.
The use of so-called “squishy circuits” may not involve a smartphone or tablet, but they’re even more intriguing to kids who benefit from hands-on learning and who have an interest in the “A” that’s sometimes included in the acronym STEAM — which stands for art. You can buy or make your own circuitry kit with LED lights, motors, batteries, buzzers, and two different types of dough. You’ll need insulating dough (e.g., modeling clay) and conductive dough (e.g., Play-Doh), which you can then use to build the circuits and create fun shapes (like people, plants, animals, or buildings) that will light up.
ENGINEERING: Build a Ramp or Roller Coaster
Children generally aren’t exposed to engineering until much later on in school. Unfortunately, this often happens after their interests in such subjects have dwindled (or may have even been crushed). Engineering is really about problem-solving and using subjects like math and science to learn about why certain solutions work. A good way to introduce this concept early on is by building a basic ramp or even a roller coaster model. Using blocks, toothpicks, wood, tape, toothpicks, tubing, and other materials, your child can build structures to hold toy cars or other figures. Through the exploration of STEM activities for elementary school children, they’ll be able to assess whether the angles, heights, and materials allow them to achieve their ultimate goals.
MATHEMATICS: Host a Math Game Extravaganza
Math class may not feel like the most exciting for many kids, but understanding how numbers work together (and can help you win!) can be immensely rewarding. If you’re looking for an activity that will keep kids occupied on a rainy day, why not host a fun math game event? Connect Four, 24 Game, Rush Hour, Rummikub, Sumoku, Phase 10, and lots of other number-based games will sharpen participants’ math skills and allow them the chance to communicate, collaborate, and have fun together. Limit gameplay for each game to 20 minutes or so and rotate so that everyone gets a chance to try something new and pair up with others in the group for an additional social benefit.
At times, the concept of STEM activities for elementary school children can seem intimidating — even to adults. But these subjects aren’t inaccessible; they’re actually very familiar to us and we use them all the time in daily life. By presenting STEM activities for elementary school kids as a fun way to discover new things, you can help your child by piquing their curiosity about the world and invigorate a love of learning early on.
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About the Author: Sean Olesen is a technician at Dunwell Tech,the official distributor of Dino-Lite Digital Microscopes. Dino-Lite is a worldwide leader in high-quality USB digital microscope cameras and microscope eyepiece cameras.