The Importance of STEM Education for K-2 Learners
There’s a buzz around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) these days and it’s becoming an increasingly popular topic of conversation in the education world. STEM education focuses on the integral study of all four of these subjects because of their connection to each other. The reason it’s so important today is because it will be a huge part of our children’s future, yet few students are interested in pursuing STEM-related careers.
But understanding that STEM-proficient citizens are needed and growing said citizens are very different matters. Evidence is coming to light that STEM skills built from early learning will help students to develop the knowledge and habits that will engender a lifetime of STEM understanding and proficiency.
One reason that it’s so important to encourage STEM learning early on is that the process of inquiry that is integral to STEM is the way young children naturally learn. Young children explore, ask questions, and discuss their findings. In her article on Early STEM Education, Erin MacPherson describes first grade learners gathered around a sand table: “Students become engrossed with the sand, some marbles, and rulers, and soon, with the help of a few guiding questions, they are learning principles of physical science.”
Our youngest students have the gift for exploration and experimentation already. When those natural impulses are matched with fundamental science concepts and instruction in inquiry methods such as controls, communication, and record keeping, students gain a solid foundation in science that can help them move ahead and excel in STEM fields.
So how can parents of K-2 students manage to integrate STEM learning into their already busy homeschooling schedule? Some recently developed educational products can help build STEM proficiency in the primary grades while providing the supports parents need to make hands-on and interactive science instruction part of their at home learning.
Science4Us is one such program. Innovative online activities and hands-on offline activities guide students’ exploration to build a solid foundation in STEM skills. Through online games and videos, students learn concepts and vocabulary that will support their learning in higher grades. They participate in both online, virtual investigations and offline, hands-on investigations to quench their thirst for and build skills in scientific inquiry and investigation. Activities are interdisciplinary, too, often including literacy skills, math skills, historical and biographical information, and literature that relates to science.
Studies show that as students enter middle school, many of them, especially girls and minorities, lose confidence in their abilities to learn Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When we provide a STEM education that fits into the budget of a homeschooling family, meets the time challenges and gets K-2 students excited about science, we’re building foundation of knowledge and a love of STEM that can be fostered and built upon for all students through years of education. That foundation will help every student, male and female, rich and poor, immigrant or native born, remain confident in their STEM learning. It’s changes like these that can change the face of STEM education.