What is STEM and why is it important for children

It is quite important for parents and educators to be aware of what STEM is and why it is important for children. STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The field of STEM was initiated by the National Science Foundation. The term went on to gain more traction when Barack Obama; the President of the United States; emphasized the need for STEM. 

STEM, however, is more than an acronym. It is an approach to learning and development wherein these four disciplines — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are cohesively taught. It focuses on bridging the learning gap that traditional education does not cover by putting children at the core of the learning experience; making them active learners rather than passive listeners.

STEM, however, is more than an acronym. It is an approach to learning and development wherein these four disciplines — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are cohesively taught. Click To Tweet

STEM

 

STEM is Everywhere and Important

STEM penetrates our everyday lives. From exercising, playing, working and even cooking, STEM is evident. In fact, when children wonder why potatoes get soft when they are boiled; but eggs get hardened under the same condition; STEM gives us the explanation. 

It is interesting to note that STEM is an interdisciplinary field and each subject is not taught in isolation but rather is intertwined with each other. Science and Mathematics birthed development in technology and with the application of Engineering, the world keeps building and innovating new products and services that make our life easier. 

STEM can be taught from mundane everyday activities. For example, baking is an excellent way to introduce STEM learning. This is because children can learn about mathematics through measuring, they learn the science of why an ingredient; or the lack of it makes the entire mix rise or fall. You could also get in a lesson on why temperature matters and so much more.

Because children are innately curious about their environment it’s never too early to introduce STEM to them.  STEM activities are not exactly about planning lots of activities that require “expensive” definite materials and processes. It is more about developing learning habits of inquiry and critical thinking skills. 

STEM activities are not exactly about planning lots of activities that require “expensive” definite materials and processes. It is more about developing learning habits of inquiry and critical thinking skills. Click To Tweet

STEM kits

Why is STEM important for children?

It encourages self-guided learning:

STEM stirs children up to test and experience things for themselves. From this, they are able to learn from those experiences to reach correct outcomes. It reduces the passive reliance on what the textbooks say. Unlike traditional education, it incites curiosity in children by making them ask questions and seek the answers. As a result, this makes learning fun and relevant. And when children are able to reflect on the ‘why’ this can be the most important part of learning.

It builds a great foundation for problem-solving:

Every product or service at its core offers a solution to a problem. Every profession no matter how diverse, ranging from astronauts to marketers; designers and doctors; are all solving problems. Everyone works as a ‘problem solver” and STEM builds the right foundation for problem-solving. It does this fundamentally by strengthening the inherent abilities of the child. This then builds a positive attitude towards problem-solving which. Furthermore, this leads to meta-cognition and a growth mindset. Irrespective of the field a child goes into, STEM is always beneficial. 

Irrespective of the field a child goes into, STEM is always beneficial. Click To Tweet

It aids language and communication development:

STEM helps with literacy, communication and comprehension skills. Furthermore, it nurtures children to work independently but also collaboratively. In addition to learning a lot of soft skills such as teamwork, empathy and adaptability; children also learn to express themselves. And learn how to communicate with each other while comprehending what they are hearing or learning. 

It sparks creativity

It is never too early to introduce children to STEM. In fact, introducing STEM to them at an early age sparks creativity. Children are innately curious and are such great sponges absorbing knowledge. Knowing this, children can be trained to be pioneers when they are introduced to scientific and technological concepts. When this is done right, they will not be limited to only being consumers of the technology. Ultimately, it encourages them to creatively come up with their own ideas and build useful tools for the world. 

Click here to shop the Afro-Tech Girls STEM at Home Kit which provides a simple yet engaging way for children ages 10+ to interact with STEM by performing fun experiments at home. Suitable for younger children with the supervision of an adult.

Read Also: Importance of Extracurricular activities

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