During the past few years, the term STEM learning has been a focus of discussion, particularly here in Silicon Valley where science education is highly valued. There is a broad understanding that incorporating STEM into your curriculum will help set children up for success in elementary school, high school and into adulthood. But what does STEM learning look like in the early learning environment?
What is STEM?
According to Live Science, “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. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.” This means, that instead of simply teaching each of these subjects to students, lessons are based on children’s own inquiries, similar to the way that we problem solve in our daily lives.
STEM encourages curiosity and hands-on learning, forming the foundation for skills that children will be able to apply in the real world.
STEM vs. STEAM
STEAM adds an additional component, the arts, into STEM learning. Edweek explains that the arts are a way to explore “more diverse learning opportunities and greater access to STEM for all types of learners.”
As educators, our responsibility is to educate the whole child, including their ability to express creativity. We can incorporate the arts into STEM projects by allowing children to use their right-brain artistic creativity in design and planning. This will allow children to generate more innovative thinking.
STEM in the Classroom
If you are interested in incorporating STEM activities into your classroom, view our list below for some fun and easy ideas to get started: