As new and exciting technology emerges, children are afforded the efforts to pave innovative paths in their understanding of STEM. This kind of learning can take place inside the classroom, but with the assistance of parents and afterschool programs, children can gain an even more robust knowledge of STEM.
One of the ways parents can begin piquing a child’s interest in STEM is by asking simple questions. For example, many children are familiar with smart phone apps. Perhaps one means of engaging conversation is by asking them what they might do to improve the game or design. Such basic questions allow them to brainstorm and think creatively, applying their abstract knowledge in the classroom to real world solutions. Alternatively, if the child is learning about spatial reasoning in school, introduce them to video games that involve building (like Minecraft) or puzzle games like Tetris (Lodaya, 2013).
Another creative means parents can use to make STEM more attractive to their children is through movie selection. Indeed, there is a wide variety of documentaries with science themes, like Winged Migration, LIFE, or Walking with Cavemen (Lloyd, n.d.). From exposure to seeing STEM concepts come alive on the big screen, a child’s interest can be captured and has the potential to translate into rich dialogue concerning the topics discussed in the film.
While they may not appeal in a sensational fashion, even board games can encourage STEM learning. In teaching a child how to play chess, certain risk and reasoning skills are developed, which can prove valuable in improving math aptitude. If a child finds success in this area, it might be helpful for parents to encourage their children to pursue afterschool activities like chess club. However, if the program is not available, perhaps parents can petition the school or find ways to support fostering that kind of activity for students (Lloyd, n.d).
Yet one more way PCS strives to encourage STEM learning outside of the classroom is through RiQ, which is a wheeled robot that children can program.
Designed for children aged nine and up, RiQ can be programmed to “follow lines, avoid obstacles, or seek out the sunniest spot in the room”. With the PCS Cortex Programming Environment, children can easily modify the robot through drag and drop commands and behavior sequences (Kremen, 2014).
While the current ranking of children’s proficiency in math and science lags in comparison to the international community, the future of STEM learning is more promising than ever (Lloyd, n.d). This reason is due largely in part to the widespread use of technology as contributors to education in the classroom, but parental involvement remains key in ensuring that children continue to receive maximum STEM exposure beyond their time in school.
Lodaya, H. (2013, July 15). More than just play: game-based learning environments are powerful tools for stem. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://stemwire.org/2013/07/15/more-than-just-play-game-based-learning-environments-are-powerful-tools-for-stem/
Lloyd, C. (n.d.). What is stem – and why should you care? Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/what-is-stem/
Kremen, R. (2014, December 19). Meet riq, a new bot for stem education. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from http://www.botmag.com/riq/
By: Lindsay Reeves