Our experts have penned previous blogs about how Covid-19 has affected the business world. But of course, Covid-19 has reached far further than that. Schools across the world have been experiencing closures and driving parents to home school their children. In this blog, our experts offer some suggestions of how to add STEM to your home learning.
Teaching is a skilled profession, which is why in the UK it takes four years to qualify as a teacher. Yet parents from numerous backgrounds and circumstances have been challenged with delivering the school syllabus the children in their own homes. We salute all parents who have pulled up their sleeves and got stuck into their new role as teacher.
The curriculum has in many cases been pared back to ensure the key areas are cemented, but it can never offer children the fully immersive experience of completing an experiment in a science lab, or of using apparatus in the design technology classroom. School is where many children become excited by STEM and we have decided to take a moment to give our followers some ideas of how to bring the excitement of STEM into your home school schedule. We hope these ideas will help to foster a love of STEM within your home environment.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, but it is much more than the sum of its parts. STEM Education combines these four subjects into an interdisciplinary approach of enquiry and problem-based learning. STEM helps children develop critical, analytical thinking skills to solve real world problems, and helps them become lifelong learners. They become competent and able to change with our rapidly changing times.
By learning to approach problems scientifically, children gain valuable analytical and information management skills. These skills can be applied to all areas of life. The best STEM learning is hands-on, helping children learn to solve problems in fun, meaningful ways. We have put together a small number of ideas for age-appropriate STEM activities which don’t require much of a financial outlay, but which offer an enriching educational experience.
Primary school STEM ideas
As spring is coming and the days are getting lighter, plants can be an exciting and long-lasting option proving an ongoing learning opportunity.
To make an indoor garden, choose several seeds – increasingly many supermarkets sell seeds, or they can be ordered online or from local garden centres. Choose quick growing ones such as peas, beans, sunflowers, tomatoes etc – most packets will give a germination estimate.
Plant your seeds in either soil – or cotton wool – and put in a warm, sunny spot. Label each seed and watch them grow. Which sprouts first? Which grows fastest? Let your children make predictions, were they right? Do they notice anything else interesting?
There is also a bonus in that once the plants get established you can move them outside and children can enjoy eating their own homegrown produce over the summer.
Grow Jack’s Beanstalk
Get each family member to choose a bean seed and plant in a labelled pot. Again, make predictions over whose will be biggest, then monitor and see who can grow the tallest bean. The bonus is that these plants can be put outside once established and homegrown beans can be enjoyed throughout the summer.
Secondary school STEM ideas
It can be hard to engage secondary age children, especially when their world has been turned on its head. But the below are challenges which might just ignite a spark. For added enrichment, they can be set as a challenge across friendship groups with a competition arranged via zoom to establish a winner.
Whose marble can run for the longest?
Challenge your children to see who can design a marble run that keeps the marble running for the longest. Add some specifics – for example, the marble run can use nothing more than cardboard and tape and has to be within a certain height and width. Let the best run win!
Build a bridge
Arrange a family battle. Who can build the best bridge to allow a car to ‘drive’ a certain unsupported distance? How will you build your bridge you might ask? We think spaghetti is a good sustainable building material, but it all depends on what you have readily available at home. It could be carboard, or whatever else is at hand.
These are just a few ideas, but more than anything we appreciate that working from home brought its own challenges which were compounded for many of our readers when they were also asked to add home schooling into the mix. It is easy to feel out of touch with what children are learning, but the joy of STEM activities is that they are accessible to everyone. They might not even feel like learning!
At the end of the day learning should be fun, especially during a high-pressure time such as lockdown. Most importantly STEM helps to foster a love of learning, and the most important gift education should give a student is a love of learning.
To speak to one of our experts – who never stop learning – to discover more about what Energy Technology and Control can offer please get in touch.