Building on the recent article about Summer STEM in the Tampa Bay Parenting magazine (Page 20: http://bit.ly/2qNqMh8), we offer you some more concrete ways to encourage STEM exploration during the summer with a minimum of expense.
The key to a strong STEM camp experience is to present a problem, list the materials needed to solve that problem, then let your children work through the solution by themselves. With a little advance planning, some inexpensive storage boxes, and a stroll around the Internet, you can become Summer STEM Camp Counselor Extraordinaire!
STEM problems include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics interrelated to investigate a problem or new situation. Here are the steps that STEM teachers use in their classrooms. You can do them, too:
But first, designate an area in your home specifically for STEM Summer Camp. Your kids will think this is fun, plus it will keep the materials neat and orderly. Here are the basic characteristics of the Home STEM Summer Camp location, which you can personalize to your own home:
Next, fill the space with STEM-related supplies. To encourage your little scientist at home, you only need a few items readily available around the house:
Now the fun begins – start to create an index card file of problems that your young scientists can investigate. Here are three examples:
And then there’s Bill Nye, the Science Guy – self-proclaimed guru of STEM for children. This is the experiment section of his website: http://billnye.com/?billnyeresourcetax=home-demos Treat these experiements the same way you did with Steve Spangler’s website – present a problem, add the materials needed (possibly throwing in a few red herrings), and let your children explore before you show them the website for the explanation.
Have fun surfing around for more websites that provide creative ways to explore a topic. Again, avoid doing all the work for your children – let them explore on their own so they come to their own conclusions and can proudly record their successes in their journals.
Try introducing weekly themes (Earth and Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Technology and Programming, etc.) Buy into your children’s interests. If they want to investigate physics all summer long, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
At the end of the summer, consider having your own Science Fair. Invite family and friends for refreshments and a recap of the summer’s experiments – the successes and the failures! Have the family work together to make the snacks (Use the family-oriented recipes in Everybody Cooks! STEM Facts and Recipes for Family Cooperation and Healthier Eating - Holiday Favorites Edition to expand your children’s knowledge of food science.)
Don’t be surprised if this newfound interest in STEM topics carries through to the rest of the year, so be prepared with some fresh new STEM problem cards occasionally. It will be the best investment in time for your children you’ll ever make!
Start your home STEM library with our three EnteleTrons® books – they introduce the concepts of rainbows, states of matter, and basic chemical interactions using fun characters who also teach valuable character development lessons. Click below for a discounted price!
Author: Renee Heiss