How many times have you tried to get your kids to participate in an activity that you know is very educationally important but they just aren’t interested? Usually that’s a topic that you really think has great importance in their development as individuals and yet those are the things that most of the time they think are- BORING! Unfortunately STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) topics tend to fall into the “boring” category along with the category of “definitely needs to know”. Although educators are coming up with more creative ways to teach these subjects, how do we spur continued interest in these areas, not just muster up enough energy and excitement to get through a single STEM activity?
How do we help them develop a lifelong love of learning or the confidence and interest in pursuing a STEM career?
How about starting with the question- What do you like to do? Some kids naturally like science and they are a piece of cake. They are your cheerleaders and helpers when you do a STEM activity. Others have absolutely no interest, but believe it or not, these kids are the most fun when it comes to teaching a STEM program because your approach can be completely off the wall. These are the kids to whom you ask the question- What do you like to do? When planning activities for kids we want to include some of what they really like and a lot of educational, leadership building lessons that we think are important. To make sure both of these goals are accomplished, have a planning day where the kids write down their top 5 favorite things to do or subjects to learn about. I can guarantee you that every one of those topics will involve a STEM concept in some way, whether you can connect it right away or not. For example, in my curriculum I use art to teach science. Why? Because I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t like either art or science or better yet both. When you start with a topic that you know they already enjoy and then connect that topic to a STEM activity, then they will start to like STEM topics by association and they will see the sciences in a new creative way. At the very least, they will learn how the sciences are involved in what they love and how STEM topics are relevant to learn for future growth in the areas or topics they do like.
Ok, so you’ve discovered what they like to do but now you aren’t sure how to link that to a STEM genre? It’s easier than you think. There are a TON of great online resources for STEM activities. My all-time favorite is www.howtosmile.org because you can create a login. Then when you search their never- ending database of creative STEM lesson plans, you can save them in organized lists and refer back to them whenever you need ideas. Most of the activities are hands-on and easy to follow. You definitely don’t have to be a scientist to understand and facilitate the activities listed there. Another great feature is that the search engine will allow you to narrow your search in many usable ways ie: cost of the program, age group, time frame and type of activity along with subject area. This is in fact just one of many websites with similar capabilities. So take some time to get to know what your kids like to do and then get online to one of these websites and you will find it’s easy to create fun, educational STEM activities that every kid will not only enjoy but want to do more of in the future!