What is STEAM and Why is it Important?

 

 

Does the whole STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) concept freak you out just a little bit? 

When I was 11, I remember watching my brother take apart an entire computer and put it back together without a manual (or a Youtube guide). 

I was like, ‘nerd alert!’. 

Turned out I am also a nerd as I ended up becoming an Engineer. It must run in the family..

As an engineer I feel extremely passionate about the importance of STEAM learning. 

Kids need to be inspired to start exploring and discovering and asking questions at a young age. We learn by failing. This is how we innovate - we fail your way to the right answer. Engineers fail all the time, we just call it something else.. ‘Data collecting’. 

The focus and importance on STEAM is growing worldwide.

In this blog, we’ll explain:

  • what STEAM is and why it’s important for kids to practise STEAM skills and 
  • we’ll give some practical ways for you to start developing these skills at home.

 

What is STEAM and why is it important?

In Cathy Davidson's book Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century she explains that while humans acknowledge the transformation that the digital age has brought and continues to bring, one of society's greatest challenges is that most of us still toil in schools and workplaces designed for the last century. 

In her book, she predicts that:

“65% of children entering grade school this year will end up working in careers that haven't even been invented yet." 

Everywhere around us are new kinds of opportunities and careers that didn’t exist a decade ago. 

It was less than 3 decades ago (in 1991) that the World Wide Web became publicly available, think of all the new opportunities that the internet created. Where will we be and what will our kids be doing in the next few decades?

More importantly, how are we to educate children for technologies that have not been developed yet and careers and opportunities that don't even exist yet?

STEAM is a hot topic as it is an integrated approach to learning that develops critical thinking and encourages kids to think more broadly about real-world problems with a hands-on approach.

Each of the STEAM elements share a common approach, they require gathering information to create knowledge or solve problems. STEAM-learning inspires you to:

  1. Ask questions
  2. Make connections
  3. Problem solve
  4. Think Creatively 
  5. Be innovative

Introducing STEAM to kids from a young age, cultivates collaborative exploration and problem solving. Problem-based learning-through-play is hands down the best way to get your kids excited about STEAM. Kids learn best if it’s through play.

 

How can kids develop STEAM skills?

The good news is you do not have to be an engineer, scientist or mathematician to develop your kid’s STEAM skills at home. STEAM learning happens naturally everyday as kids explore, experiment, play, and try new things. 

Here are a few practical ways that you can try to introduce STEAM-learning into your everyday life:
 

  • Nurture curiosity

It all starts with inspiring kids to ask questions. This is something you can easily do everyday by pointing out why and how things work. 

When something falls on the ground, ask your kid what just happened and explain that the object fell due to gravity. Learn alongside your kid.

I have a friend who once told me that his dad used to challenge him on topics when he was little, just to nudge him a bit to think more curiously. 

His dad would say the earth is flat, and then he would think ‘hmmm, really?’ After doing a bunch of thinking, and asking questions and doing research, he would go back to his dad and say: ‘Dad, due to reason x, y and z, I really think the earth is round.’

His dad would reply, ‘that makes sense, you must be right.’

When he got older his dad’s habit sometimes infuriated him, but he never stopped thinking and asking questions and is still living his life with a consciously curious mindset as an adult.
 

  • Let go

Learning through experimenting can get a bit messy sometimes and it’s hard for us as adults to not step in and say ‘look what you’ve done, let’s clean up this mess’.

Kids are natural STEAM learners. For adults, it may look like they are just making a mess, splashing paint around and unpacking and repacking and sometimes even bending things until they break, but this is how they learn - by investigating, discovering and trying new things.

It’s important to let go and give kids a chance to explore and discover. Even if it means the house will end up less than perfectly neat.

  • Celebrate the failures

As I mentioned before, learning from failure is how we innovate. 

Therefore, if my calculations are correct, every mistake we make should be bringing us closer to success? 

Now that sounds to me like something worth celebrating!

How often do you celebrate your kid’s learning?

Showcase your kid’s projects and creations! Don’t forget to showcase the process as well, as the process demonstrates that it takes a series of failures to get us to the eventual success. 

Success takes time!

  • Problem Solve together

When your kid asks questions or struggles with a task, don’t take over and do it for them, try and figure out what the solution is together.

Innovating with your child and doing creative projects is a great way to develop STEAM skills and a wonderful bonding experience.

Creative Crafting is our favourite way of practising STEAM skills with kids. It involves creating something from nothing and is a process of discovering, connecting, exploring, and transforming. You get to work with different materials and create interesting crafts that can move and that kids can play with afterward. 

Need STEAM project ideas to do at home with your kid?

>> Click here to grab one of our free lesson plans!

 
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