- Myth 1: STEM education is only for naturally gifted children. Every child from every single background you can think of is born with an innate ability of a scientist. The friction and lack of understanding occur when we don’t feed that natural ability and it is more likely to disappear. Unless those inquisitive needs are met with things to play with and explore, that unbridled curiosity will either fade or simply won’t reach max levels.
- Myth 2: There is no creativity in STEM. Creativity is a long-term process and it evolves over time. Creativity grows out of a certain type of hard work, combining curious exploration with playful experimentation and systematic investigation.
- Myth 3: Girls don’t like STEM. Did you know that 66% of girls and 68% of boys in elementary school had an interest in math, according to this article? It starts to decline in girls as they realize there isn’t a positive representation nor support at home or in school.
STEM Education is only for “Naturally Gifted” Children
Myth: STEM education is only for naturally gifted children.
Every child from every single background you can think of is born with an innate ability of a scientist. The friction and lack of understanding occur when we don’t feed that natural ability and it is more likely to disappear due to outside distractions like senseless TV shows, games, and lack of adequate support at home and in school.
After reading hundreds of articles and studies over the last few years, research has shown that STEM is so important for all children in every single area of study.
Think of it like this, when we learn something new our brain creates different neuronal pathways. That means as you do a something the same way so many times, you’re likely to only think a certain way and your brain creates patterns to use less energy, making it easier. That’s why it’s hard to stick with and adopt new habits.
When toddlers are introduced to STEM education they are creating pathways in their brain that allows them to make connections using a specific variety set of skills that teaches them to critically think, communicate effectively, and innovate new ways to solve problems in front of them. While toddlers practice and develop these skills through STEM education, they’re having fun the entire time. It’s challenging and rewarding all in one. Enjoying a challenge and feeling rewarded is something that all of us are born with.
The first 7 years of life are crucial to the rest of a child’s life. According to Commonsense.org, “Early STEM instruction results in higher language and literacy outcomes, and the reverse is true as well.” Exposure to more spatial language during block play in infancy and early childhood increases children’s spatial abilities as they get older.
To add to that, math skills and reading skills in kindergarten can set the stage of your child’s reading skills in the eighth grade; and background knowledge about the world and how it works (much of which falls within the realm of STEM concepts) is critical for reading comprehension once children are able to sound out the words they encounter.
By feeding that craving for exploration and discovery in a structured setting, they are more likely to understand and want to continue learning as they grow. Shaping their brain to be a well-rounded problem solver who loves a good challenge.
Think about it, toddlers LOVE picking things up, putting things down, asking why; tasting, smelling, and intently watching anything that might wander across their line of sight. Everything is new, everything must be analyzed.
The key is, there must be input for there to be output.
Unless those inquisitive needs are met with things to play with and explore, that unbridled curiosity will either fade or simply won’t reach max levels. Then we have a restless child who gets frustrated, has a hard time communicating feelings, and doesn’t want to challenge themselves. This is where the myth comes into play.
Because we see children who are more advanced then others those children are practicing at home through structured play. Even if we include children who are naturally gifted these children are supported by their family and school to foster a love for education so they continue to develop and master these skills as they grow.
There is No Creativity in STEM
Myth: There is no creativity in STEM.
First, let’s get the technicalities out of the way. STEM and STEAM are two similar styles of education as they share the same core values. STEAM specifically includes the arts where humanities are included within that too.
This blog compares the two if you’d curious about the differences and what to do for your toddler. Should they use STEM or STEAM-based education?
Anyway, STEM education for toddlers (or any age really) includes creativity as well.
Creativity is a long-term process and it evolves over time. Creativity grows out of a certain type of hard work, combining curious exploration with playful experimentation and systematic investigation.
For example, when a toddler is playing with a car and the wheel stops working, they have to start to think of what is causing the wheel to stop. Is it loose on the axel, is there something stuck in-between the wheel and axel? They must get creative to make it work again!
Another example of creativity when toddlers use the STEM-certified Lock and Learn puzzle baseboard. Toddlers can take any type of compatible LEGO® or Mega Block® and build their own fort, a spaceship, or a home with a “fence”. This is all coming from their interpretation of what it should look like.
Let’s say they like to color and you’re teaching your 5-year-old how to stay in the lines. This is great practice for that. After they’ve built the puppy by counting and matching the colors, they can color it over BrickMates special paper. Simply take the paper and let them count which squares and color appropriately to match.
This activity helps them further develop their math, art, and communication skills.
Something that most of us don’t even realize is that we often incorporate creativity when we ask our toddler’s open-ended questions. This is especially true while doing a STEM education-based activity too.
In fact, many activities are STEM-based that we do daily, the key is to recognize them and plan for it so that we can support the learning process further.
You may be wondering how this is creative. Well, this is creative because it allows them to think of their very own solution.
Creativity varies and that’s the beauty of it. STEM is all about trial and error and critical thinking. It’s not just about artistic expression, which is such a common and normal misconception.
Chan, the founder of RoboMindTech says, “It’s important to realize that creativity can co-exist with science and technology,” Chan says. STEM skills also lead to creative careers, not just lab coats. Art and architecture are great examples, according to Chan, of the two scopes co-existing. A background in STEM is also propelling graphic design into a leading industry that will continue to grow both technologically and artistically.
Girls Don’t Care About STEM
Myth: Girls don’t care about STEM-related education, activities, or jobs!
Just as any other child who is exposed to a variety of subjects or toys when they are young will pick what they’re interested in. Since we’re less likely to introduce science experiments, robots, and other “technical” stuff to girls, of course this is a common thought.
However, things are changing even more. There are now programs dedicated to teaching girls and minorities using STEM education and lots of technology as a helping hand. This is to show girls that there are other women in the field and they can do whatever is interesting to them.
Did you know that 66% of girls and 68% of boys in elementary school had an interest in math, according to this article? It starts to decline in girls as they realize there isn’t a positive representation nor support.
However, things are clearly changing as there is a huge movement of women who are already in these fields that are promoting how cool and fun it is to be an engineer, scientist, doctor and so forth.
Plus, when one girl speaks up in class more will join them and they won’t feel like “the only girl” in the group which is another common feeling that keeps girls from joining STEM activities during free time in school.
Girls are very interested in STEM activities. Science experiments are fun, they’re messy, and they keep every child’s attention much longer regardless of sex.
TOP REASONS TO PROMOTE STEM FOR GIRLS:
- Women are equally capable as men and are just as smart when given the same tools needed to develop this fundamental way of thinking
- Girls can get jobs that are paid high if they master the concepts in the STEM way
- Girls are just as curious as anyone else and want to learn equally, we just have to give them an equal opportunity!
- They can feel empowered to be treated the same as men and stand right next to them as equals
By bridging the gap starting as early as 1 year old, your little girl will develop healthy habits and train their brain to process information at high levels so that as they grow and become adults, they can comprehend what is going on in the world and be apart of the change for a better future.
According to research, children who don’t have proper support in school and at home have low levels of science achievement and may be less able as adults to understand public policy issues necessitating ever-greater scientific literacy and reasoning (e.g., climate change, hydraulic fracturing, genetic engineering) as well as experience lower employment and prosperity.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the later we start supporting and fostering good learning habits, the more likely our children will not do well and lose interest in school and STEM-based careers.
The best time to start was yesterday. Read this blog to learn more on when to start STEM education.
Here are some tips on how to promote an interest in STEM
- Revealing to your child that STEM is all around them in daily life from the green grass to cell phones to roads to everything we buy at stores – can generate curiosity and a desire to know the how and why of our world and encourage children to learn more.
- Implement math-based activities using Stack by Numbers puzzles and science experiment kits. Negative perceptions about their math and science abilities begin at surprisingly young ages for girls, Vakharia says. “A lot of studies have shown that girls as early as age six start developing the idea that they’re not inherently good at math,” she says.
- Girls can like fashion and science! If your little girl is showing interests in multiple areas, that is okay. They’re still learning about the world and they’re curious. Let them find their passion by supporting both.
- Visit places like the museum many times. By going multiple times, they start to notice things in more detail and ask more questions. Kind of like when you watch a movie multiple times, you pick up on way more than the first time
Science, technology, engineering, and math varies so much. If your daughter doesn’t like typical math problems, that’s not to say she doesn’t like math. She may like it more if it’s presented to her in a way that fits her personality type. Same with the other areas of STEM. Don’t get discouraged and let her know it’s okay if it takes time to find what she likes and doesn’t like. Experimentation is apart of the fun!
You are an amazing parent as you take the little free time you have to research what else can be done to set your child up for success. #parentwinoftheday
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