My daughter is a geek and we couldn’t be prouder! I hate to say we were not always happy about it because she was bullied so much in elementary and middle school. When a kid is smart and geeky like Caitlin, they don’t always have the social skills they need to, shall we say, blend in. We were dreading her going to high school because we knew the bullying would just get worse. Thankfully we learned about a STEM school that was located within miles of our home. We spoke with the guidance counselor and we learned all about a STEM Education and how to get Caitlin ready for it.
If you don’t know what a STEM education is, here is the skinny on it! STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Instead of teaching kids the four as separate subjects, STEM integrates them into a learning experience based on real-world applications. If you are interested in getting your child into a STEM school, here are some great tips:
- Encourage Curiosity: When children are young, they are quite curious. As they get older, this tends to wane a bit. A STEM education encourages that innate curiosity. So, ask your kids lots of questions with a focus on the four STEM disciplines. So, if you are eating pizza, talk about fractions or if you are raking leaves, talk about the gravity that made the leaves fall to the ground.
- Encourage Research: As a parent, I tend to spout off answers to all of my kids questions. Face it. It is easier. Instead of being quick with a solution, get your child to do some research into the issue and see what they come up with.
- Encourage STEM Television: My kids love to watch TV, but it is usually stuff like Teen Titans or Doctor Who. Look for science based programs the kids will enjoy. Watch it with them and spark a conversation about it.
- Encourage STEM Activities: Take the kids to the local science museum or planetarium. Many of these museums are hands on, making it more fun and interesting for the kids. Get the kids on the computer and look up STEM games and activities they can play. Minecraft is a good one!
- Encourage STEM Play: We have a lot of board games we play on family game night. Almost half of those are educationally based. Two of our favorites right now are Math Dice and Code Master from ThinkFun Toys, where education is fun!
Math Dice: Build those math skills by thinking on the fly! Kids will roll the two 12-sided target dice and multiply them to get a target number. Then they will roll the three scoring dice and combine these numbers using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. This mental challenge helps players solve math problems in a fun new way and has helped Henry sharpen his lagging math skills. Math Dice is available on Amazon for $9.99. Code Master is a new board game that takes kids on the ultimate coding adventure. Kids learn how to step through code and understand the logic and sequence behind a computer’s actions. Kids will be entertained while developing an understanding of computer programming principles, which is part of a STEM education. The kids have really enjoyed playing this Minecraft’ish coding game. Me? Over m head folks!! It is available exclusively at Target ad retails for $19.99.
ThinkFun ws created in 1985 by Bill Ritchie and his wife Andrea Barthello. Their first product was a puzzle and was made, packaged and sold from their basement. Bill and Andrea dreamed of taking STEM related subjects like math and engineering into games kids could learn from, would be challenged by and would have fun doing it! Ready to ThinkFun? Enter to win Math Dice and Code Master for yourself! (ARV $30.00)
Are you interested in a STEM Education for you child? If so, why?