STEM Activities for Homeschoolers
If you’re not familiar with STEM, it stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It’s an educational philosophy that incorporates each topic so that children are gaining knowledge in an interdisciplinary environment. For instance, if you’re teaching science skills, you’ll also include math and perhaps technology in the lesson.
This type of learning is aligned with how things are done in the workforce. After all, employers expect their employees to have multiple skills. If you’re an engineer you’ll be using all four components on the job — not just engineering. It’s a real-world teaching method that prepares students to critically think on multiple levels, which will vastly improve their problem solving skills.
The 4C’s and STEM
While teaching STEM subjects is important, it’s also important to add the 4C’s: Collaboration, Creativity, Communication and Critical Thinking. A recent study by the technology giant Google, found the top six characteristics that they look for in an employee. The results were shocking:
- Being a good coach
- Communicating and listening well
- Possessing insights into others
- Having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues
- Being a good critical thinker and problem solver
- The ability to make connections across complex ideas
The good news is that you can include these skills as you teach STEM subjects.They really go hand-in-hand and work perfectly for an interdisciplinary approach. The following are some STEM activities that you can incorporate into your homeschooling.
There are multiple science activities that you can find online and at home. A quick search will provide a list of many resources that offer free lessons, experiments, and many other hands-on projects. You can also do your own science experiments that include math such as baking bread or a cake, building toy models or experimenting with chemical reactions. Other activities include:
- Taking a field trip to a local science museum
- Make your own periodic table
- Watch science videos and recreate the project on the video
- Do the “drinking plant” experiment
- Raise butterflies
- Purchase inexpensive science or lab kits
- Build your own ecosystem
- Investigate science crates that teach students about electronics — also know as STEM kits
The possibilities are nearly endless, especially with the internet as a resource for finding different science activities for students of all ages and learning proficiencies.
Technology is all around us — many parents may already be using technology for their homeschooling. For example, online curriculum products invite collaboration, communication and critical thinking while blending in technology by using computers, tablets and smartphones. Kids of all ages love working on computers, and chances are they’ll be working on a computer or using technology when they find employment.
If you want to include technology in your homeschooling try these activities:
- Watch video tutorials on any subject your child enjoys
- Investigate free college courses online
- Incorporate educational apps and podcasts that align with your subjects
- Use an online curriculum like Time4Learning, which offers automated system grades lessons and keeps reports for homeschool portfolio usage
- Learn to use a camera to create
- Investigate robotics — there are many inexpensive options
- Play computer games and as your children get older, create your own website
Sit down with your children and find out what interests them. Chances are you’ll be able to integrate technology into their activities. Even something as typical as communication invites technology when you teach your children how to write an email or send a text.
Engineering not only uses the other elements of STEM, it also includes many of the 4C’s. Engineers from almost every field communicate with others, create, collaborate and use critical thinking while they go through what is called the “design process”. Even if your child has no interest in this field, introducing the concepts behind engineering such as brainstorming and evaluating, will help them develop many other skills. Activities for all ages include:
- Building different structures with legos
- Engineering a mountain rescue litter using common household materials
- Designing a dome that can hold a specified amount of weightl
- Building a spaghetti bridge
- Building a water clock
- Designing and testing your own water filters
- Analyzing a model rocket’s design and flight, compared to a real rocket
What’s really great about these activities is that they are hands-on and require many skills. All age levels love doing these projects. It’s almost like they’re not doing school work!
Finding math activities for kids of all ages is easy. You not only have textbooks and online curriculum products, you have everyday activities like spending money, cooking meals, filling up your car with gas, or playing board games. Although math is intimidating for many kids (and parents), there are teaching methods and activities that make it fun. They include:
- Online curriculum programs that offer interactive lessons, which make learning difficult math concepts easier
- Board games such as Sum Swamp and Pay Day! Or online games like, Time4MathFacts, to help learn math facts
- Creating a grocery list, set a dollar limit and have your older student pick the groceries without going over the limit
- Crafting a family budget with your students
- Math tutorials, free online math courses and videos for all grade levels
- Games such as All-Variables Sudoku and Constellation Sudoku for older students
- Math projects such as Box Office Totals, which can be used for all age levels
These activities not only build a solid math foundation, some also expand upon it by including the use of data, charts and graphs. Children will lean on the 4C’s and use skills they’ve sharpened in the other STEM subjects.
Incorporating STEM activities into your daily homeschooling schedule will help keep your students excited about learning and also sharpen the skills that are necessary for future employment. It’s a win-win strategy for you and your children!