STEM learning is beneficial for children of all ages. For those of you new to the terminology, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Sometimes you will see STEAM instead of STEM. In this case, the Arts have been added.
The benefits of learning STEM and STEM concepts and exploring these ideas are vast. We will focus only on few of them in this article.
One of the skills that everyone look for the most is the ability to solve problems. While your eight-year-old is not ready to go to work, he or she will begin building skills that will translate into the workplace in the future. Children who are encouraged to enter STEM fields or explore STEM concepts learn better problem-solving skills.
For example, when things do not work the way they expected, they must decide what is wrong with the experiment, observation, or input. They must decide if their hypothesis is false and create a new path. Engineering can have fatal results if they do not design roads, buildings, or bridges correctly. Of course, this is not all that engineers do, but even computer engineers can see devastating mistakes if they do not perfect their programs, networking equipment, and technology, and data sharing. Sometimes, though, these individuals make mistakes before releasing or completing their models. They must be able to learn from those mistakes and recreate their product or structure.
In addition to learning from past mistakes to problem-solve, STEM professionals must be ready to tackle problems that others have not previously solved. They can use their skills to create new innovations to solve old problems.
In addition to problem-solving skills, STEM teaches children to become more innovative. While some products are simply replacements for old ones, STEM professionals often improve upon the previous to make them more economical, durable, or user-friendly.
When the automobile was invented, it did not stay stagnant. Even Henry Ford did not let his automobile innovations stand. Each reincarnation of cars, from the Karl Benz invention through Henry Ford and today’s vehicles, have had one thing in common—a STEM student has improved upon the last model. Innovation has become the name of the game for technology and automobiles. Our societies have come to expect bigger, better, and more powerful technology to be included in each new model.
Because students will be required to use their problem-solving skills, often, experimentation will be involved.
Science teaches the scientific method to advance the experimentation that students will develop. They will learn to develop their hypothesis and change variables to achieve their goals. Students can also see how certain variables affect the task at hand. This experimentation will help them throughout life. While they may not pursue STEM fields, the act of experimentation can be useful for other areas as well.
Teachers, lawn maintenance crews, business professionals, and entertainers all experiment throughout their jobs. They may test new learning objectives, lawn care chemicals, business models, or styles. The skills they learn through STEM education will provide them with the skills needed to continually try new things.
Learners engaged in STEM programs are interested in all parts of the learning process. They begin to look at the who, what, where, when, why, and how of all learning. Rather than accepting truths at face value, they want to learn how things happen and why. They learn all parts rather than just a few. Becoming a whole learner means that they do not stop until they become experts.
With technology continually changing, this means that there are many fields without experts. Children with the ability to fail and persevere also tend to learn more. They do not just learn what works, but they learn what doesn’t and why. This can be beneficial to students in many fields as they need to fully absorb the material. Learning the beginning middle and end gives students a more comprehensive knowledge base to build upon throughout their lives.
Many STEM applications require working with others or expanding upon previous research. Since this field is so team-oriented, children exposed to STEM are often better prepared to work together. Students can do many experiments independently, but because these experiments are often extensions of other information, they may often be required to share knowledge and information in order to proceed.
Since they must work with multiple fields, experts, and data sources, STEM students often engage with the material more thoroughly. They must read, communicate, and analyze the findings and presentations. They also become more critical thinkers because they have to determine the efficacy of their own work as well as the work of others.
Critical thinking skills
It is important to note that even if your child does not pursue a career in STEM fields, having this knowledge will prepare them for the changing future. They will have less trouble adapting to STEM-based changes in the future. They will be more comfortable with the rapidly adapting technology that others create.
Students must be able to apply their knowledge to the greater world around them. They must be able to understand their purpose, analyze their process, and apply it to the real world. If their experiment cannot easily be duplicated and must be manipulated, the data may not be accurate. Students need to be able to determine which variables are likely to occur, not just the ones that affect the outcome.
Failure may not seem like an advantage, but it is excellent for children to learn some measure of failure. By failing and continuing to innovate and experiment, students learn that failure does not have to mean the end of the line. What it does mean is that they have to be problem-solvers and creative with their new solutions. The first or even fifth thing they tried did not work. Students will learn that failure is a part of life, and that not everything will go their way. Likewise, they will learn to assess their mistakes, and sometimes discover something new. Play-Doh was discovered by accident. While it may not be a highly innovative substance, it has been mass-produced for years to bring joy to children. The makers could have just thrown it away. Instead, they used their “failure” to create something new. They may have used a schoolteacher to do it, but they did not stop at failure. Children who participate in STEM programs are more emotionally equipped to deal with failures and changes due to the nature of the
Being able to fail also has a side effect. It produces children who can continue moving forward. Trying multiple times until they get it right creates children who persevere. They do not see failure as an end; instead, they see it as a middle. Due to this outlook, they can persist.
All of these skills are wonderful to have. They do, however, have a fifth component—arts. The arts are sometimes included in STEM activities because art fosters creativity. In order to innovate, problem-solve, and engage with unique materials, we often need to be able to think creatively. Art provides a catalyst for creative thinking. Engineers and technological designers often use artistic expression to develop new technologies, buildings, and new plant life. In addition to aesthetics, sometimes, creativity is simply used to create inventive solutions to severe problems.
Encouraging your children to explore STEM learning is beneficial to them in creative and educational ways. They can build skills that are useful to them beyond the classroom, like critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovativeness. Some of these skills, such as teamwork and critical thinking, will translate to other industries, classes, and learning environments. If you want to help foster this love of STEM in your children, you can provide them with meaningful experiences at home. Here are a few of those experiences.