Before you face another chorus of “I’m bored” from the kiddos, consider these simple activities you and your child can do together when winter weather or schedules have you stuck indoors.
Simple STEM Activities to Do at Home
(Family Features) Winter is the season for family gatherings, snow days and breaks from school and work, but all this time indoors can lead to a serious case of cabin fever for both children and adults. Before you face another chorus of “I’m bored,” consider these simple activities you and your child can do together when winter weather or schedules have you stuck indoors.
Each activity idea from the experts at KinderCare can help children build foundational skills they’ll need for success in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas so you can combine fun and learning.
For more activity ideas, visit kindercare.com.SOURCE:
When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but science at play. Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science.
Science Made Magical
(Family Features) When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but scienceat play. Observing the laws of physics or chemistry can, at first glance, seem too fantastical to be explained, but science can explain a lot.
These moments serving as creative ways to engage kids in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning may be one of the best tricks of them all. STEM touches many aspects of daily lives, and finding the connections between the classroom and the “magical” STEM moments of day-to-day life can inspire children and pique their interests in these topics.
Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science:
Knowing how the magic works doesn't necessarily make these tricks any less fun, and these simple tricks help teach children how STEM plays a role in everything, including fun and games. Another way to encourage children with STEM at an early age is encouraging them to participate in a program such as ExploraVision, the only STEM-related competition of its kind. It allows kids of all ages to create ideas for new technological innovations in response to current real-world issues. Participants work on their projects to supplement their science education, while also developing problem-solving, analytical and collaboration skills.
Parents and students can learn more about the competition and how to enter, and teachers can find free tips for engaging students, at exploravision.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Making sure your kids are ready to take on the world as adults is arguably one of the most important roles of a parent. Now, more than ever, education is the foundation of that preparation. As technology continues to evolve, it’s important that kids are learning, and also developing skills in high-demand areas, such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Foundation for the Future
STEM plays a vital role in youth education
(Family Features) Making sure your kids are ready to take on the world as adults is arguably one of the most important roles of a parent. Now, more than ever, education is the foundation of that preparation.
The experts at the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, are aiming to raise awareness of the benefits for today’s students, and partnering with farmers to award STEM grants that enhance programming at rural public school districts.
While nearly everyone has heard about STEM education in one way or another, some people don’t understand its true value in school and in the workplace.
It’s cutting edge. When it comes to innovation, there’s no disputing that STEM is progressing changes throughout society. STEM fields are at the forefront of nearly all of the exciting modern developments, from the latest digital gadgets enabled by technology to ground-breaking scientific research. Another benefit of this progressive environment is the financial and social impact on the community. Skilled STEM workers are driving trends and innovations, which can create jobs and boost the economy. All of these attributes appeal to eager, young graduates looking to make their mark.
It’s where the jobs are. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report on the 10 fastest-growing occupations through 2026. In the report, 100 percent of the jobs fall into STEM categories, from the No. 1 growth career – solar photovoltaic installers – to a handful of medical field jobs to statisticians, software developers and mathematicians.
It’s a chance to make a real difference. STEM fields can drive true social change. Researching and uncovering new treatments, or even the cure, for a debilitating disease is only possible with skills gained through STEM learning. However, science isn’t the only STEM field that brings opportunities to make a difference in others’ lives. A career in technology could mean helping a child hear or see for the first time using a specially constructed device, for example.
It’s a stepping stone to dozens of industries. While STEM learning lends itself well to a fairly large scope of career choices, that list is ever-expanding. In fact, most of today’s graduates find themselves hard-pressed to secure a position without some STEM training. Consider a seemingly distant field such as fashion, for example, where digital technologies enable design sketching, mathematic skills factor into creating patterns and some engineering knowledge is necessary for designing a runway show. Beyond the less obvious career choices, STEM learning provides practical experience with methods of problem solving that can be applied to virtually any aspect of personal or professional life.
It’s helpful in developing additional skills. The specific training involved in STEM education can help lead to certain career paths that will be available in the future. However, it can also help with more general skills your child can use immediately. Students typically follow processes in STEM programming and training, such as the scientific method, that give them a chance to work with other students, test hypotheses and find solutions. These challenges can often help in developing teamwork, leadership and other collaborative life skills.
Learn more about the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program at GrowRuralEducation.com.
Support STEM Learning
As a parent, there are many ways you can support STEM learning in your local school district. It’s little secret that school district budgets are continually shrinking, so an important way you can encourage STEM learning is by exploring funding opportunities that can bolster STEM programming.
Initiatives like America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education focus on bringing STEM education to rural school districts. Eligible farmers can nominate their local public school districts for the grants, which help enhance STEM education. Schools then participate in an application process to compete for $10,000 and $25,000 grants.
One school district in Royal, Washington, is utilizing the program to raise academic achievement for students in the classroom and on state-mandated math tests. The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant allows teachers to extend learning for students, especially those who are learning English as a second language, who need intervention but lack the technology at home.
An important learning barrier is being removed through the use of Chromebooks and Kajeet, a system that allows internet connectivity but also has a filter to ensure the technology is limited to academic use. Learn more about the program and nomination process at AmericasFarmers.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (teacher with student)SOURCE:
Demand for workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers continues to explode. Whether you’re looking for fresh ideas to shake things up in the classroom or planning activities to share with the family at home, consider these creative approaches to increasing students’ interest in STEM topics.
Practical Ways to Promote STEM Learning
(Family Features) Demand for workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers continues to explode. Data from the U.S. Department of Education predicts that growth opportunities in these fields will increase 14 percent by 2020. One way to nurture kids’ long-term potential is to make learning STEM subjects fun, hands-on and interactive.
Whether you’re looking for fresh ideas to shake things up in the classroom or planning activities to share with the family at home, consider these creative approaches to increasing students’ interest in STEM topics.
Take a field trip: When learning occurs outside the confines of a classroom, it can create unexpected sparks of interest. Build classroom field trips or family outings around destinations that offer unique ways to highlight STEM subjects. For example, setting up a tour of a local baseball stadium may be a chance to get up close and personal with the game and the field, but it’s also a way to discuss the math behind baseball. Similarly, a visit to an indoor skydiving facility is more than just exposure to an extreme sport; it’s an opportunity to learn about terminal velocity and gravity. Additional options include an outdoor nature lesson, manufacturing facility, planetarium or local farm.
Introduce robotics: Between self-driving cars, drones that can aid in rescue efforts and robots that assist as a “butler” for day-to-day tasks, the future of robotics is here now. Researchers at Brandeis University found that students involved in robotics are two times more likely to take more challenging math and science courses and two times more likely to pursue STEM careers.
One option to increase students’ interest in robotics is the TI-Innovator Rover, a robotic car that introduces middle school and high school students to the basics of coding and programming. Students without any coding or robotics experience can learn to write basic programs on their TI graphing calculators that make Rover do things like draw, dance or even crash. Learn more about the first calculator-controlled robotic car at education.ti.com/rover.
Career show and tell: Seek out speakers or mentors who have real-world STEM careers, ranging from more traditional STEM fields like scientists or engineers to more unexpected jobs that use STEM principles every day, such as a fashion designer or an ice cream flavor scientist. Encourage kids to get hands-on with these careers by having guests both show and tell how they use math and science every day. For example, students can measure and cut materials to make a circle skirt, an unexpected lesson in geometry. Or they can scoop up a physics lesson on states of matter as milk transforms into ice cream.
Cook up some fun: When it comes to bucking tradition, the kitchen may not be the first place you think of to drive home the benefits of STEM learning. However, the kitchen is a perfect place to explore the chemistry of combining ingredients and hone math skills such as dividing fractions when splitting a recipe.
Solve real-world problems: Give students an opportunity to think through a real problem and come up with a solution. For example, challenge them to solve how they would create low-cost options for filtering water in countries without clean water. Through trial and error, students can learn that failure is OK and sometimes leads to a better solution.SOURCE:
Studies show participating in science, technology, engineering and math-themed summer camps can help kids keep learning throughout summer. In fact, one study of a math camp in Connecticut found that 79 percent of the kids who participated improved their math scores by an average of 31 percent after four weeks. What’s more, research (and parental experience) show kids learn and retain information better when they enjoy the lessons. If you’re looking for a fun, STEM-oriented summer camp for your children, here are six options to consider.
(BPT) - Summer camp season is on the horizon. Are you and your children in agreement on what you want from their summer camp this year? Chances are, you’re hoping for a camp that will keep your kids occupied, active and learning throughout the summer. And your kids ... your kids probably just want to have fun!
“The good news is summer fun and learning don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” says Michelle Cote, president and founder of the Bricks 4 Kidz educational program. “Over the past decade, educational summer camp options have significantly expanded. Now, parents can find camps that foster important STEM skills while delivering the fun kids crave.”
Studies show participating in science, technology, engineering and math-themed summer camps can help kids keep learning throughout summer. In fact, one study of a math camp in Connecticut found that 79 percent of the kids who participated improved their math scores by an average of 31 percent after four weeks. What’s more, research (and parental experience) show kids learn and retain information better when they enjoy the lessons.
If you’re looking for a fun, STEM-oriented summer camp for your children, here are six options to consider:
* Robotics — Automation has transformed manufacturing, and the field of robotics continues to innovate. Kids who participate in robotics-themed camps like Bricks 4 Kidz’s WeDo Jr. Robotics learn creative thinking skills, teamwork and collaboration, computer programming and problem-solving. The popular program, which uses special LEGO Bricks and components, is geared for children 5-9. An advanced program that uses LEGO Mindstorms EV3 software is available for children 9 and older. To find a Jr. Robotics or Advanced Robotics program near you, visit www.bricks4kidz.com.
* Stop-motion animation — Before there was CGI, animators worked wonders using stop-motion animation. Today, summer camps that incorporate stop-motion animation allow children to work with movie-making software, and learn how to plan, script, stage, shoot and produce their own stop-motion animations. Kids 9 and older are sure to relate to stop-motion animation lessons that also incorporate familiar building elements like LEGO Bricks.
* Space adventures — With private companies working toward a new wave of space exploration, a space-themed summer camp can capture kids’ imaginations and inspire interest in a future career. Camps that mix model-building into lessons about space can also teach math and engineering skills.
* Remote Control Mania — Remote-controlled cars have been around for a long time, and they’re just as exciting today. Bricks 4 Kidz Remote Control Mania camp uses LEGO wireless remote controls to engage campers in the fun of designing, inventing and building their own remote-controlled machines. The camp teaches children the basic working principles of many of the automated devices they encounter in their everyday lives.
* Coding — Coding makes computer software, apps and websites possible. Coders help write the programs that power everything from email servers to automated drawbridge gates. They can even stop criminals from harming computer networks and systems with malicious code! In coding-themed camps, such as our Robotics programs, children learn the basics of how to write computer code, as well as engineering skills.
“Summer camp should be about more than just keeping kids busy or even just preventing summer brain drain,” Cote says. “Camp can be an opportunity for children to learn — and fall in love with — STEM subjects that can be the foundation of their future careers.”
(BPT) - The family trip. For most kids it’s a chance to relax, visit a new destination, collect souvenirs, and create stories and memories to share with their friends throughout the year.
For 14-year-old Maanasa Mendu, however, the family trip provided her with a vision of how she needed to change the world.
Mendu’s spur for innovation came during a family trip to India where she witnessed firsthand the energy scarcity experienced in regions of the world far from her native Ohio. The family makes the visit every summer, and during this particular visit, as she experienced persistent blackouts, Mendu knew she had to do something about it.
So she got to work.
With an idea in her head, she found her opportunity to grow and develop it through the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The competition challenges students to create an innovation that solves a real-world problem affecting their global, national or local communities.
Nature inspired Mendu to solve the problem of unreliable power. By harnessing wind, solar and rain energy, she created a device that could provide energy in any rural or urban environment. Her early prototypes used recycled soda bottles hanging from a tree. She then attached solar panels like leaves and while these prototypes looked simple, they actually captured energy — as much as 9 volts with her third prototype.
Mendu used this discovery and her work thus far to enter the Young Scientist Challenge by recording a two-minute video describing the science behind her innovation. Judges evaluated her video based on her creativity, scientific knowledge, persuasiveness and overall presentation, and liked what they saw. Mendu was named a competition finalist and paired with a mentor, 3M senior product development engineer Margaux Mitera, to further develop her project.
For Mendu, the partnership with her 3M mentor ignited myriad new possibilities. “My mentor, Margaux was amazing and I learned so much about the process of innovation working with her. She truly exemplified how collaboration is key to success!” she remembers.
Mitera’s sentiments were mutual. “Maanasa is such a bright, enthusiastic young woman. It was really a pleasure to work with her and help her project grow. I can’t wait to see what she will do in the future.”
With Mitera’s help, Mendu learned the four C’s of science: collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. She was also able to meet with Mitera at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, where each of the finalists arrived on October 16, 2016. Mendu and her fellow finalists all had the opportunity to present their projects before a panel of judges, including 3M scientists. When the competition was over, Mendu’s idea to deliver electricity to impoverished regions earned her the title of America’s Top Young Scientist.
The victory also awarded her $25,000, but Mendu isn’t looking toward the future just yet. She’s still busy in the present, perfecting her design, so she can help impoverished people around the world as soon as possible. “Along the way I have learned so much about the process of innovation,” she says of the project. “Innovation is more than just a lightbulb moment, it’s about being creative, trying new approaches and learning from your mistakes. I’ve began to realize the truth in the saying, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
Mendu is dedicated to continuing her process of innovation for those who live every day without energy.
The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge
Mendu won the 2016 Young Scientist Challenge with an idea and a dream. Nominations for the 2017, challenge are still open. To enter, students in grades 5-8 must submit a one- to two-minute video no later than April 19, 2017, describing the science behind their new innovation or solution to solve an everyday problem. The problem could be one experienced half a world away, as was the case with Mendu's, or it could be one you encounter every day. The only limit to your scientific solution is your own imagination. To learn more about the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, visit www.youngscientistlab.com/challenge.
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