It’s Saturday morning and the Mini Maker Fair is at full force at our local Barnes & Noble. My eight year old has been excited about the Makers coming to our local bookstore. No one could explain what the fair would look like, but enthusiasts were going to show up anyways.
Despite the hype, the fair was really just seven separate booths that promoted STEM toys sold at Barnes & Noble. From building blocks, coding game, to a boy who uses high voltage to burn wood and create unique patterns in home decorating pieces. While Evan plans out his Christmas list, I find that the fair has a lot to be desired. The STEM circuit toys are already wired; the robotics are way too advanced for my third grade scientist.
As a STEM curriculum writer and a teacher, I know how much our education system lags when it comes to science, math, and engineering education. Major U.S. science competitions aren’t dominated by the MIT or Virginia Tech, but a relatively small country of South Korea.
Our science, math, and engineering education is in the state of crisis. The reasons are too many to name. Our educational system focuses solely on standardized testing of math and language, leaving all other subjects, science, art, engineering, social studies… behind. So behind that most schools do not even teach science and social studies in elementary years.
By the time students reach upper elementary school, they are basically science illiterate. The mystery of polar regions temperature difference and the parallel electrical circuit are both equally perplexing and beyond understanding. Failure to accumulate scientific knowledge during early childhood and elementary years is a sure recipe to increasing absence of U.S. youth in science fields.
Still too many teachers and parents have never heard of STEM. STEM is an integrated approach of teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through hands-on project based learning. Of course STEM incorporates arts and language in all aspects of its design, as well. STEM is what our educational system should look like. Unfortunately, science, technology and engineering isn’t on the end of the year state standardized test.
What is STEM good for? STEM not only teaches cross cutting, comprehensive multi-disciplinary curriculum but it also teaches students problem solving and critical thinking. It increases both student I.Q., as well as, academic performance and achievement.
STEM promotions are great. I love that companies like Barnes & Noble are trying to introduce the concept and idea. Still, most STEM programs are geared toward high school students. If we wait until high school to introduce STEM, we have already lost an enormous number of student potential. If STEM is to be successful, it has to be introduced during elementary years, from kindergarten to 8th grade. Without foundational knowledge of scientific concepts, students lack ability and self-confidence to pursue STEM related study and careers.
STEM Bundle Challenges & Guide is a step-by-step guide that teaches how to implement STEM program with your child, anywhere, anytime. STEM doesn’t have to entail expensive programs, if you follow our guide on how to implement STEM. This guide will teach you how to find age appropriate content and how to prepare, manage, and guide your child’s project based learning.
Ultimately, regardless of your child’s ability level or learning style, our STEM approach meets her/him where she/he is and gets them where they need to be in ability to apply science, technology, engineering, and math in their learning and future career pursuits.
Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.
Best STEM Toys:
“Big Bag of Science” is a perfect Science Kit for Young Scientists. With 70+ activities, “Big Bag of Science” introduces kids to chemistry, physics, biology, magnets, etc. This hands on kit is engaging and provides hours of STEM learning and fun.