Published on January 23, 2017 inParenting on LandOMoms.com
Math and science. Two subjects that are powerful and practical … and require lots of patience. We all know that a knack for math and science can lead to a lifetime of success in desirable careers like engineering and medicine. The need for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers is growing exponentially. Scientists and mathematicians are in high demand, so getting your kids interested in these subjects can really pay off. And even if your kid doesn’t grow up to work in a STEM field, a passion for it can help them navigate other subjects and gain a greater understanding of the environment around them.
Long division isn’t exactly on everyone’s list of most enjoyable pastimes, though. Math can be challenging for brains big and small, which makes homework feel like a war of the worlds sometimes. Many kids are more interested in video games and the latest electronics than they are in studying scientific formulas, which is why making math and science fun is a must. Get kids excited about STEM with these hands-on activities:
Biology is a field that kids can get excited about, even if they don’t want to be a biologist when they grow up (yet!). Many kids have a natural affection for animals and learning more about their environments. Expand their interest in habitats and living things by inviting them to join you in creating a garden full of plants that are symbiotic and help each other thrive. Talk about climates and temperature changes that can hurt or help your garden, and keep a journal with stats. You can even develop your own little ecosystem in the form of a terrarium, which is a great way for kids to learn about evaporation and condensation.
When grade schoolers help you cook, they’re learning math too! Measuring cups are a lesson in part and whole numbers. The chemical interactions that happen while baking cupcakes, and the precision required to get it just right, are science at a very practical level (and what kid says no to cupcakes?). Making pizza is another opportunity to talk about measurements and comparisons – how many of each topping do you need? What’s the sauce to cheese ratio? What fraction of the pizza has been eaten?
Start a Forest School
I’m not talking about running off and opening some big fancy forest university, but gathering with friends for your very own nature playgroup – or what’s known as forest school – once a week. Being in nature for 2-3 hours at a time is a valuable way for kids to experience the science that shapes the world around us. Having a dedicated time with other kids and parents makes that time in nature even better. Each child can learn from the questions and suggestions of their peers, and all ages can be included, allowing the whole family to explore and learn together.
Leave it to the Pros
Sometimes you just don’t have time to develop lessons out of daily life. Another great way to work more STEM into your kid’s schedule is signing them up for some fun classes or camps. Zoos, aquariums, museums and nature centers often offer classes focused on nature, animals and earth science. Your local library is also a great resource and may even host its own STEM-related classes. And of course, you can always ask your kid’s teacher for ideas!
There are endless ways to help spark an interest in math and science. Take a look at your daily interactions and consider what small changes you can make to instill a passion for STEM. You might be surprised at how easy it is to get your kids riding on the STEM train!