One of the most fascinating parts of parenting is being able to watch the mind of your child develop in real-time. While science, technology, engineering, and math — commonly abbreviated to STEM — may seem like complex and overwhelming topics for children, many parents agree that their children seem drawn to these topics. So how can you make them approachable for children?
Toddlers (1-3 Years Old)
It’s never too early to teach kids about STEM. As young as one year, many children are ready to explore their worlds, so you should foster their curiosity by preparing age-appropriate STEM crafts.
You can teach gravity with cardboard ramps placed on your couch or bed. Send down different toys and let your kid observe what happens. You can look for things that don’t roll, like blocks, and let them compare the difference.
You can also do some shadow or water play. With just a flashlight, do shadow dances with your hands or create puppets and watch their shadows. Make sure to do different distances and show your child how the size and contrast change.
For water play, you can test which objects sink or float. You can also teach about water absorption using sponges and teach about volume, weight, and measurements by filling different-shaped cups.
Preschoolers (4-6 Years Old)
For preschoolers, you can introduce engineering concepts with a variety of materials, allowing your children to build objects. You can use straws and sticky tapes to make towers. Plastic cups and craft sticks are also a good combination. You can even reinforce math fundamentals by counting each item before starting the STEM crafts with your kids.
You can even perform the classic egg drop challenge this early. The premise of the egg drop challenge is to place an egg in a container that will protect it, even when dropped. Take note, though; a lot of eggs will be sacrificed with this experiment.
Elementary Aged Kids (7-9 Years Old)
From age seven, your child is ready to take on more complex STEM crafts. You can perform color-changing experiments with food coloring, water, and white flowers. Just place a few drops of food dye on a container and put one flower for each color. After a day, you and your child can witness the process of transpiration and observe how it changes the color of the flowers.
Using magnets is also a fun way to learn about magnetism. Just make sure to use large magnets to avoid your child swallowing them. Incorporate different types of materials to see which objects are attracted to magnets and which ones aren’t.
Pre-Adolescents (10-12 Years Old)
At 10 years old and above, you can focus on STEM crafts that teach about technology, including coding. If you want to start with the fundamentals, you can introduce binary codes and use beads to “code” their name.
Not only will they understand the basics of binary codes, but they’ll also end up with a unique bracelet or necklace to wear. They can even make some for their friends!
If you’re prepared to put a bit more money into it, you can find robot sets online that allow you to build a robot that can walk, talk, and “think” through code. There are also apps that let your child program bots to do specific things, like moving boxes. These encourage your kid to utilize their critical thinking skills to solve problems.
Just make sure to be by their side as they play the games so that you can assist them when they need help. This way, they’ll feel supported and you can teach them additional concepts as they progress.