What is STEM and how does it relate to Early Learning?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Here at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum we’ve expanded STEM to include Art and Reading in our quest to provide hands-on integrated learning through play.
Since preschoolers are naturally curious and ask lots of questions, they are inherently well suited to engage in STREAM-related activities. According to Dr. Sherri Killins, Commissioner of Early Education and Care for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “What STEM does is give a label to what you are already doing… helping children to explore, observe, ask questions, predict, integrate their learning…”
As a parent of a young child, you are their first and best teacher. You don’t need to have a degree in biology or be able to do calculus to engage in meaningful STREAM activities with your child. When your child asks inquiring questions that you don’t know the answer to, consider it an invitation to explore together - respond “I don’t know – let’s find out together!”
Seek to spark your child’s curiosity and guide their inquiry – avoid delivering facts and answers. The Boston Children’s Museum’s STEM Sprout Teaching Guide suggests focusing on WHAT questions – What are you doing? What do you see happening? By focusing on WHAT instead of WHY empowers you and your child to answer these questions through direct observation while fostering communication.
When visiting our STREAM stations here at San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, engage your child by observing them play and ask open-ended WHAT questions. “What can you tell me about what you are building or painting? What do you notice about ________?” Encourage and help your child to make a prediction by asking, “What do you think will happen if we ______?” Allow them to test their prediction by making changes and observe what happened. Ask your child follow-up questions to encourage communication and understanding -“What happened when you_______?”
Our STREAM stations are offered daily from 12:15pm to 1:15pm in the Outdoor Art Studio. These activities stimulate curiosity and exploration in a playful and interactive manner to allow children to integrate knowledge while building critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We invite you to further extend their learning by visiting our year-round exhibit spaces that corresponds to our themed STREAM-based activities. There’s a whole world out there to explore – let’s get curious together!
Sparking a Child’s Interest in Science and Technology
Let’s Talk, Read and Sing About STEM!
Michelle Foerster holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She is an Educator at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum and loves teaching through play. She believes children learn best through hands-on exploration and play.