How STEAM Activities Can Enhance Children’s Competence

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STEAM : New age learning

STEAM stands for Science + Technology + Engineering + Arts + Mathematics.  The specific branch of study that integrates all these individual subjects together is called STEAM.  STEAM impresses 21st-century skills acquisition so that students gain proficiency in collaboration, questioning, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

When it started

STEAM was always there in its own form (practical lesson in classroom/computer labs) but got a new momentum when President Barack Obama announced a commitment of $240 million for STEM education in the year 2015. Then later STEM changed into STEAM (including Arts) as design thinking and creativity are essential component for innovation.

Why we should teach STEAM to our kids

1. STEAM is a practical approach for learning. Remembering the definition of ‘surface tension’ is a difficult job for many young minds, but if they make a simple water strider insect with paper (STEAM learning) then the concept gets clear and easy to remember.

2. It makes them critical-thinker. If we show a prosthetic leg to your kids and tell them to try to make a prototype (STEAM) out of paper-tubes, rods, sponges and tape then they must come out of ideas that’s their very own. It makes them think in an out of the box way, that’s not included in their school syllabus.

3. STEAM makes them problem-solver. If kids are trying to make one elevator that works on hydraulic pressure (STEAM) and their model does not work, then they need to find out the problems by themselves and try to fix it.

4. STEAM prepares our kids to become the next-gen innovators. As it’s an open-ended platform and success of projects often depend on trial and error process, so it reframes the thinking of failure. Albert Einstein once said – “It’s not that I’m smart, it just that I stay with problems longer”. STEAM kids acquire the virtue of persistence.

5. Lastly, STEAM is fun. When kids can design and make a simple circuit-robot (all by themselves) that can draw on paper, then there is nothing more exciting or amusing for them.

How parents can involve in STEAM with kids

STEAM is an interactive way of learning. Kids and parents can sit down together, brainstorm over a project and make their personal bonding going strong. As it doesn’t involve any rote learning, so kids never get bored of it and parents never get frustrated on the process. If our child is always asking ‘why?’ and ‘how’, then it’s a STEAM mindset and we should try to foster it.

According to U.S. Department of Education, “In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects collectively known as STEM.”

STEAM creates Critical Thinkers, Problem Solvers and enables the next generation of Innovators. It is nothing but Educate to Innovate.

An example of STEM activity to practice with your kid

Problem :   Make a bridge with straws that is strong enough to hold toy cars .

How you do it :

1. Show some  pictures of different kinds of bridges and how they stand (Science/ Technology )
2. Discuss what bridges are for ( Language)
3. Give him some basic ideas how he can start doing it ( Engineering)
4. Then let him do it by himself ( Creativity )
5. Help him whenever he needs you and finally give the finishing touches (bonding with caregiver)
6. He needed to make the bridge stand and balance objects on it, he realized heavy objects are not suitable for this structure ( Mathematics)
7. Then asked him to draw the picture and write about it like what are the problems and how he plans to solve them ( Arts)
8. He will enjoy the whole process  ( Fun)

A Bridge of Straws
Experimenting to make it stronger
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