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Posts Tagged ‘STEAM’

The Benefits of Summer Camps for Your Kids (And You)

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Now that the sun is shining and the weather warms up, that means the school year is coming to an end. The kids will be home for two full months meaning you have to figure out what to do while you maintain your full-time job.

Before, the kids would be busy throughout the day at school. Maybe you were able to meet them at home, or they had someone watching them until you are home from work. But what if the kids aren’t ready to be left at home all day, every day?

Consider enrolling your children in summer camps. These camps provide entertainment while educated kids on different subjects. More and more the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) summer camps are becoming the popular (and recommended) choice for kids. Why? It is because these are all skills that are needed in a continually growing workforce (think computer software developers, medical scientists, analysts).

Here are a few benefits of enrolling your children in a STEM summer camp this year.

They Learn New and Unique Skills

The skills your kids will learn at a STEM summer camp will be valuable their entire life. But not only that, they integrate these skills into a fun and exciting atmosphere. For example, coding camps give kids the opportunities to learn about computer programming skills they usually wouldn’t learn in school. Launch After School programs are a fantastic example of what kids learn, how they learn it and why it is beneficial for their future.

They Get a Feeling of Independence

Allowing your children to have the chance to foster a sense of independence will help guide them as they grow older. They go into a new environment with new people all around. While there, they have the opportunity to make their own decisions on almost anything. Add that to having to learn to develop trusting relationships with other adults and friends to help them instead of always relying on their parents.

It Builds Friendships

When you send your kid to a summer camp, they are going to be surrounded by not just kids their own age. But they will also meet people that are interested in the same things they are. Summer camps are a perfect environment for kids to build lasting friendships. Whether it be through games, free time or through team-building exercises, your children will develop friendships they will cherish for a long time.

Help Grow Up Confidently

It isn’t always easy to pack up and leave home while at a young age. It can be intimidating and scary (for you too). But sometimes that is precisely what they need to give them a little push outside their comfort zone.

Too often do children nowadays rely on things that make life easy, whether it be electronics or having things handed to them. But by going to camp, they gain experiences that they may not get anywhere else. All of these opportunities help them grow up as children and build a level of confidence they may not have gotten otherwise.

So while you figure out your summer plan between children being home and try to work, consider enrolling them in a summer camp (or maybe two). It will be a relief for you since you know where they will be the whole time and won’t have to worry about finding a babysitter. More than likely when they come home, they’ll want to go right back.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 Ways to Empower Your Daughter to Be a Leader in STEM

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Try these tips to help her overcome the typical barriers girls face.

We all know there is a gender gap in STEM. Women hold about 24 percent of STEM field jobs in the United States, and when you get into the leadership ranks the numbers are paltry. Even in the movies, only 12.5 percent of characters with STEM careers are female. Luckily, many groups—including my own, VentureLab—are working hard to engage girls in both STEM and leadership. Here are 10 ways you can get involved at home to empower your daughter to be a leader in STEM.

1. Encourage curiosity and experimentation.

Encourage your daughter to ask Why, How and What if…? If she asks a question like “how do clouds make thunder?,” go online with her to find the answer and the science behind it. Check out YouTube and find some easy to do at-home science experiments, like making slime out of various household materials. Even cooking together and trying different ingredients is a good way to experiment. A curious mind will not be afraid of trying new things and will not be afraid of asking questions that might lead to new innovations.

2. Make things.

Take on the mentality of a maker. Instead of buying something or waiting for someone to solve a problem, do it yourself. You can set up a mini maker space or crafting table in your house dedicated to creativity and messiness. Create a space where girls can explore their hobbies, experiment, and create. A maker’s space doesn’t need to be expensive. Use recycled cardboard, Styrofoam, yarn, art supplies, and any kid-friendly tools lying around your house. Girls who make things will learn to find resourceful ways of solving problems and will become doers and leaders.

3. Encourage a growth mindset.

Compliment girls’ efforts, not their intelligence. A growth mindset means that our brains can change and grow: we learn new things by practicing. When girls hear things like “You are so smart” they tend to believe that being smart is innate and not changeable. So, when they receive a not-so-great grade they believe they have failed. Instead, compliment girls’ efforts by saying “You worked really hard” or “I’m so proud. You didn’t give up on that math homework.” By complimenting girls’ efforts, we are priming them to do hard work and remain persistent despite challenges.

4. Make her “failure resistant.”

Redefine what she thinks of as failure. Help girls learn that everyone fails. It’s how you deal with failure that makes all the difference. When something doesn’t go according to plan, emphasize that failure is a part of the learning process! Failure is about testing hypotheses and practicing until you have mastered a skill. Give examples of times that things haven’t gone as well as you expected them to. If they are struggling because they are being challenged, that’s because they are trying something new!

5. Put her in front of people and ask for what she wants.

Help girls develop a more powerful presence by teaching them how to interact with adults and others. At home, practice with girls and show them how to introduce themselves, shake hands firmly, and make eye contact. At restaurants, have your daughter order for herself. The ability to confidently introduce herself and ask for what she wants will set her apart from the rest and serve her well later in her career.

6. Encourage her ideas and focus on her strengths.

In general kids are used to not having their ideas heard, so go ahead and encourage girls’ ideas no matter how silly or impractical they sound. Have her write her ideas down in an Idea Journal and get involved in the process if she is interested in pursuing a project. Even if her idea doesn’t work, she’ll know that she has your support and will keep trying new things. And if you see that your girl has strengths in math, science, art, or whatever it might be, encourage her to pursue those areas and sign up for classes or camps that will hone her skills. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way for girls and will set them up for success.

7. Find role models and mentors.

Sometimes it’s hard to picture yourself doing something until you see someone like yourself doing it. This can be particularly challenging in the STEM fields. Reach out to local women scientists and engineers and ask if they will speak to your daughter about their field of work and their experiences. If you don’t know any women scientists or engineers, check out FabFems.org for female STEM role models. And you can always study women role models from the past and present, like Mae Jamison, the first African American woman astronaut, or Mary Barra, engineer and CEO of General Motors. Such models help inspire girls and show them that they too can pursue STEM fields.

8. Solve meaningful problems around you.

Girls become more engaged in STEM when they see how it can be applied to helping people and the planet. Help girls link math and science to real-world problems. Support her and get involved, whether she wants to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity or just build a birdhouse. Show her how engineering and math is involved. Or maybe she is interested in the environment and sustainability and wants to build a hydroponics unit. Discuss the science behind hydroponics and plant growth.

9. Just play!

We tend to take kid’s play for granted, but so much learning, experimentation, and creativity comes from play. With play there is no judgement, no fear of failure, and often no right or wrong answers. Yes, some games have winners and losers, but it is part of teaching rules and strategy. Expose girls to tech toys, like Ozobots or Dash and Dot, to learn about coding. Play with Snap Circuits or littleBits to create all sorts of electronic inventions. Build with Legos and toys that use the imagination. Even cardboard boxes are great to play with and turn into forts, or she can create her own games out of recycled cardboard. Learning through play is a great way to internalize important concepts and stimulates the whole brain.

10. Watch unconscious bias and gender learning differences.

Even if STEM isn’t your forte, be mindful of how you speak about it. If they hear, “We’re just not math people” or “Science is hard,” kids pick up on these cues. Approach STEM with a curious mindset and learn with your daughter. As parents, we may also unconsciously steer our daughters away from adventure and experimentation. We tell boys to go climb trees, but we tell our girls not to get their dresses dirty. These messages affect the way girls see themselves and what they should and should not be doing. Help empower girls to enjoy STEM and be adventurous risk-takers.

 

This article was written by Cristal Glangchai Ph.D. from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Bill Nye’s Tips for Getting Kids Excited About Science

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Bill Nye, the ‘90s television icon, the teacher who helped kid-me understand topics like buoyancy and momentum, the man whose mission it is to help make science more accessible to the masses, is back. (Not that he ever left—he’s always been really, really busy.) These days, Nye is teaming up with Nintendo to help promote the just-released Nintendo Labo and is getting ready for the premiere of the third season of his Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World. At a time when science instruction time is quickly declining in elementary schools, I asked our favorite Science Guy what parents can do to get kids excited about the subject he loves most.

Don’t Wait

When it comes to catching the science bug, that incessant hunger to understand how the natural world works, Nye says there’s a cut-off age. “When we did the Science Guy show in the 1990s, we had very compelling research that 10 years old is as old as you can be to get the so-called lifelong passion for science,” Nye says. “And I think its about as old you can be to get a lifelong passion for anything. When did you want to tell stories?” The motto in his business: “Science every day in every grade.” There’s really no such thing as “too young.”

Know the Power of Algebra

If your middle school math teacher didn’t quite make the message clear, let Nye tell you again: Algebra is important. “Here’s one thing that has been shown: Algebra is the single most reliable indicator of whether or not a person pursues a career in math or science,” Nye says. “It’s not clear that it’s cause and effect. It seems to be. Learning to think abstractly about numbers apparently enables you or encourages you to think abstractly about all sorts of things and so one change we could make in education is getting people interested in letters representing numbers earlier in their academic careers—that is to say, third grade rather than seventh grade.”

Focus on the Why

It’s not enough for a teacher to stand in front of a classroom and make kids recite the words “Molecules are made of atoms …” Kids learn through stories—they need to know why science is important in their lives. In all sorts of everyday situations, explain to them how science is at work. “I don’t have polio because I got the polio vaccine,” Nye says. “I am alive because my grandparents did not die of the Spanish Flu in 1918. I really like calling a car from my phone rather than wandering around looking for a pay phone to call a taxi. This is all brought to us by science.”

He goes on. “I was just talking the other day to this guy about his tires. Tires now are guaranteed to go 60,000 miles or 80,0000 miles. When I was a kid, tires would go 15,000 miles and then my parents would have them thrown out and have new tires put on. We feed 7.5 billion people because of agricultural technology. It’s extraordinary. Science, people!”

For whatever career your kid might be interested in, talk about how science will be necessary—there’s just no skipping it. “Suppose you were at a party and people are standing around talking and someone says, ‘I never learned the alphabet. I thought it was arbitrary.’ Can you imagine? In the same way, we want science to be part of your education no matter what you end up doing, whether you become a lawyer or a venture capitalist or a plumber or an electrician or a care provider or a circus performer.”

Work With Video Games, Not Against Them

Nye has been hearing the question for years: “Are video games messing up my kid?”

“There’s always concern expressed about video games,” Nye says. “These kids todayWhen I was young, doggone it … Look, the video game is going to be in your household.” Believing that video games can help kids get excited about STEM, has teamed up with Nintendo to promote the Labo, a series of DIY cardboard kits for the Nintendo Switch. It ingeniously melds gaming with making—the screen guides kids as they build real toys they can play with, from a fishing rod to a piano to a robot suit. “It is inherently hands-on,” Nye says.

“I became a chemical engineer because I’m a tinkerer,” Nye adds. “I tink.” He remembers playing with cardboard boxes as a kid. “There’s nothing better,” he says. “The refrigerator would come in a huge box. I mean, oh my God, come on, that’s living. You could crawl inside and it became a tank. And all the forts you could build! Monsters cannot penetrate cardboard. It’s very well documented.”

Let Kids Play

To help kids learn and gain confidence, sometimes moms and dads need to get out of the way.

You can provide them with materials to experiment with—perhaps a pair of socks for them to test their nerves or a penny, eye-dropper, glass of water and some dish soap to explore cohesive force. And then see where they go from there. “Kids love science,” Nye says. “The people who have trouble with science are the parents. Let kids be fearless. Let them mess around. Let them find out how the world works for themselves.”

 

This article was written by shared by Michelle Woo to Lifehacker and Michelle Woo on Offspring from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Easy Indoor Activities to Promote STEAM Skills in Your Kids

Simple ways to get your child thinking critically.

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Turning everyday tasks into learning opportunities with your children can greatly benefit them in the classroom. And STEAM education, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, is a great way to get your kids to brush up on their critical thinking skills. Here are five ways to incorporate STEAM (or STEM) into fun activities without having to set foot outside.

1. Make soup together.

Science: Through this activity, children will become early scientists as they compare and contrast how the texture of vegetables changes throughout the cooking process.

Technology: Ask: How does heat cook soup? How will you time the cooking? How do you keep veggies fresh before cooking? Have the kids think of the everyday uses of technology that help them and you make soup. In addition, have the children come up with different ways they might cook their soup if they didn’t have a stove.

Engineering: Using a knife can promote an early engineering experience of a simple machine, such as a wedge. The discussion alone around the process of cooking is a wonderful form of engaging engineering skills.

Art: Follow your soup-making process by reading a story! Our favorite is the story of Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. After storytime, invite children to draw a picture of their favorite part of making homemade soup.

Math: Through cutting vegetables, children may learn halves or fourths, exploring fractions or simply counting and measuring. Adding spices and measuring the vegetable stock also provide opportunities for children to begin to understand the properties of measurement.

Play with bath toys.

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Make bathtime educational.

Photo: Pixabay

Gather various water-safe objects that sink and float through exploring, observing and predicting.

Grab plastic measuring cups and spoons, plastic bowls and other water-safe items and toss ’em in the tub. Ask:

  • Why do some things float and some sink?
  • What do you notice about the shape, weight and feel of the objects when they’re in the water? How does that change when you take them out?

Bake together.

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The science of turning raw ingredients into something mouthwatering.

Photo: Pixabay

Make prepping a treat even sweeter with these tips and questions to incorporate into your kitchen adventures.

  • Talk through measurements as you mix dry ingredients together.
  • What do we predict will happen when dry ingredients are mixed in with the wet ingredients?
  • What makes the batter change color?
  • What do you think might happen when we bake the batter? What makes the batter go from wet to baked and delicious?

Ease into a bedtime routine with flashlight shadows.

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Nothing like old-school entertainment.

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Grab your flashlight and small objects, like a favorite stuffed animal, toys, or even a shoe, and see how many different ways you can make shadows move and play across the room.

  • Place objects or your hand in front of the light and observe how shadows change and move around the room.
  • Create a story about the object’s shadow.
  • How do you make the shadows dance?
  • How can we make the object look bigger or smaller?
  • How many different ways can you make a shadow disappear and reappear in a different place?

Build a shadow theater.

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Bring the inner director out of your child.

Photo: iStock

Materials: Shoe boxes or pieces of cardboard, tape, white or waxed paper, flashlight, variety of objects to cast shadows

Cut off the top and bottom of the boxes. Help the children to tape paper across one of the openings. Ask: What else could we use to attach the paper? Place different objects in the box and light them from behind. Allow the children to select objects and have others guess what each object is while viewing from the other side. Encourage the children to experiment with moving the object and the light.

  • Can you make the object look bigger? Ask children to think of other ways to make a shadow theater.
  • What else could we use to let the light shine through? Do we need a frame?

Allison Wilson is the Director of Curriculum and Innovation at Stratford School, a leading independent private school founded on the belief that education is a significant influence in the life of a child. She is passionate about developing teachers and students, bringing more than 15 years of experience to the early-childhood sector through teaching, school leadership, teacher training and innovative curriculum development. Stratford offers an accelerated, balanced curriculum from preschool through eighth grade with an emphasis in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) that incorporates music, physical education, foreign language and social skills development.


 

This article was written by Allison Wilson from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Benefits of a Musical Environment

MusicYou can make music with just about anything found in your household. Adding a musically inclined environment to your child’s life offers extensive benefits for her emotional, intellectual and social development.

For young children, music helps identify teamwork. It shows that you can create something greater with the help of more people. For example, the use of drums, guitars and vocals can produce a better song than a song only containing the use of drums.

Music allows children to express themselves through creativity and openness with others. Enjoying music gives preschoolers a common interest and can create lasting friendships. Here are some ideas to incorporate some tunes into your child’s daily activities.

  • Allow your child to sit at the kitchen table with pots and pans to use as drums while you make dinner. This engages your child with you in the kitchen and keeps him away from the possible dangers of the kitchen while you are cooking. Provide him with different types of pans and utensils (for example, plastic utensils and metal pans) so that he can learn to create various sounds. It is best not to use glass in this activity.
  • Sing along with your child in the car. Preschoolers are not yet at the age where they become self-conscious of their behavior. In fact, most little ones love letting out their strong vocal chords for everyone around them to hear. Encourage your child to do this more often, even if it is a little loud on the ear drums! Playing basic songs and repeating them regularly will help your child retain simple melodies and rhythms.
  • Plan a dance party for family fun night. Encourage your child to get up and show you his moves by playing freeze dance. This is done by a family member controlling the music and stopping it at random times. When the music is stopped, everyone freezes until the song restarts. Freeze dance always results in tons of giggles by all the family members.

Five Reasons Why Learning the 4Cs is Important

To prepare children for the modern world, STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics)Curiosity has become an essential part of childhood education. Besides introducing children to STEAM concepts, it also helps teach children how to communicate, collaborate and think critically and creatively. These skills, otherwise known as the 4Cs, are essential to success in school and in life. Here are five reasons why.

  1. Critical thinking skills increase motivation. Children with strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills are more likely to be motivated to achieve academically and less likely to be negatively influenced.
  2. Creativity provides a healthy emotional outlet. Children who express themselves creatively show less frustration, develop a joy for learning and acquire an appreciation for other perspectives.
  3. Communication and collaboration promote confidence. Developing communication skills through fun and collaborative methods fosters a sense of self-esteem, enables healthy emotional development and encourages teamwork.
  4. The 4Cs help build executive function skills. Executive function skills, such as planning, organizing and strategizing. These skills help children develop self-regulation, working memory and cognitive flexibility which will encourage them to learn new ideas and develop their social-emotional capabilities.
  5. Employers highly value the 4Cs. Hiring managers pay close attention to a job candidate’s abilities to communicate, collaborate and think critically and creatively. Encouraging young children to build these skills can help set them up for success later on.

Five Ways to Encourage STEAM Learning

STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) has become a vital part of early childhood education. Team WorkSTEAM concepts help prepare children for life in the 21st century. After all, STEAM-related jobs make up one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy (Baird-Remba, Guey, & Lubin, 2013). This is expected to increase over time as children eventually join the workforce. Here are five ways you can encourage STEAM learning at home.

  1. Take a field trip. Museums, zoos, aquariums, libraries and even public parks provide many opportunities to introduce STEAM subjects. Be sure to engage your child, ask her what she would like to see and ask whether she would like to learn more about what she has seen.
  2. Watch STEAM-related TV shows and movies. While screen time should not be solely relied upon for education, there are many ways it can help enhance your child’s learning experience. Things like documentaries and educational programming may strengthen your child’s understanding of STEAM subjects.
  3. Conduct experiments. Many fun and easy science experiments can be done at home with simple household items. You can find some ideas here. You can also help your child keep a journal of the experiments she completes and record what she learns from each one.
  4. Encourage questions. Children are naturally inquisitive, often asking “why?” or “how?” Following this thread of curiosity may lead to a STEAM subject which interests your child. If you don’t know the answer to your child’s question, research the topic with him.
  5. Ask your child what she would like to be when she grows up. Many careers are tied to STEAM learning. Help your child find out more about the field she wants to pursue and what she needs to learn to get there.

References

Baird-Remba, R., Guey, L., & Lubin, G. (5 June 2013). 14 US Industries That Will Boom In The Next Decade. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/americas-fastest-growing-industries-2013-6

Three Easy Science Experiments Your Child is Sure to Love

IMG_2672_philly_00429Children have a natural curiosity in STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). You can encourage your little scientist’s interests by conducting the following easy experiments at home.

Milk Fireworks: Pour whole milk into a baking pan. Add drops of red and blue food coloring. Add a “squirt” or two of dishwashing liquid, and watch the colors burst and swirl! When the “fireworks” slow down, add another couple of drops of dishwashing liquid to get them going again. Explanation: The soap separates the fat from the other liquids in the milk, causing patterns to appear.

Dancing Raisins: Put raisins (or dried corn or macaroni) in a clear cup. Fill the cup with lemon-lime soda. Watch how the raisins bob and sink in the cup. Ask your child what makes the raisins do this. Explanation: The gas bubbles in the soda lift each raisin up, and when the bubbles reach the surface and pop, the raisins sink.

Salt & Vinegar Pennies: Put ¼ cup of white vinegar into a clear plastic or glass bowl. Add one teaspoon of table salt and stir until the salt dissolves. Dip a dull, dirty penny halfway into the liquid, holding it there for 10 to 20 seconds. Remove the penny from the liquid. What does your child see? Explanation: Salt and vinegar create a weak acid that dissolves copper oxide, which is the tarnish on a dull penny.

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.