STEM Challenge: Engineering and Science for Kids

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

One of the most important things your children will learn going through school. STEM, standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is part of our daily lives and is important for personal functions as well as understanding the world around us. A STEM challenge provides an opportunity to develop these skills in an exciting and positive way. Suitable for younger children and older, those in the early years’ bracket can indulge in fine motor skills activities that can be related to STEM subjects whereas older children can be introduced to the basic principles of engineering. Doing STEM challenges are an exciting and creative way to introduce children to these important subjects. 

STEM Challenge: What is STEM?

Learning what STEM is a vital step to introducing your children to their possible future careers. STEM challenges provide exciting avenues for children to grow and enhance their abilities in different topics surrounding STEM. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These subjects are vital in accessing the development of our futures. These fields can send people into medicine, avenues of technology like inventors and innovators, they can also end up being scientists. The more opportunities that you give your children to explore these subjects, the better chance you are giving them at building a future and helping them with their curriculum. Doing STEM challenges is an exciting way of bridging that gap and helping children learn. 

Within STEM, there are a variety of activities that can entertain and engage your children with the process of learning. Each subject has topics of interest for different niches. For example, science offers things like chemistry, physics, biology, natural and earth sciences. Technology can offer things like computer science, software development, content creation among other things. These types of activities encourage creativity and improve critical thinking skills for students who want to become the next generation of social and technological engineers. There are lots of ways to encourage children to become involved in the processes of engineering. Doing things like building bridges and towers to even participating in building simple machines and robots – there are lots of options to encourage growth in this fashion. Mathematics is a great base for all of these subjects as people learn how to see counting, patterns, and sequences. These can all be done in an entertaining fashion through STEM challenges. 

STEM activities allow children to enable engineering through building things like towers with plastic straws and tape. Using straws that can be bent allows for the aesthetics of the tower to be taken into consideration – knowing the type of shape that your children want can help you structure it in the particular way you want it. Ask your children if they need any help and if they don’t, stand back and allow them to manoeuvre it themselves. If they need help, then help them assess solutions to the obstacles and encourage their creativity and build the tower alone. 

Children are all unique and think differently. Allowing them to express themselves and perform with their own levels of creativity will allow the finished product to be different each time – this highlights children’s resilience and ability to critically think around challenges and problem solving through creativity. Building these types of towers also aids with fine motor skills. This is the movement and coordination of the arms, legs, and other large body parts and movements. These aid with small muscles as they try to stick their straws together to form their tower.

Fine Motor Skills Activities: STEM Challenges

Building towers aids with fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are the combination of small muscles in movement with eye coordination. Movements are also in conjunction with hands and fingers along with the feet, wrists, and also the toes. Fine motor skills help with exercising the frontal cortex and promoting intelligence. Fine motor skills don’t simply appear at a particular age, but are developed through the stages your child will eventually go through. Fine motor skills can be developed through a variety of entertaining activities for your children to engage with. Creating patterns can be taught through a variety of fine motor skills activities and can be done with household objects like spaghetti, straws, or even play doh. Brilliant ways to enact STEM challenges

Using different coloured objects like straws encourage children to become familiar with a variety of different stimuli as well. Allowing children to choose their colours to create their pattern is a great way of encouraging their involvement in the activity. Learning how to differentiate colour is an important skill they will need as they grow older as well. Patterns and sequences aid with mathematics and provide children with an improved understanding of similarities and differences. Patterns happen in counting, through addition and subtraction, and can be used in literary devices as well. Teaching children this at an early age provides them with a head start in understanding sequences. 

Finding methods to engage your children in understanding educational concepts can help in a variety of ways. Being patient with your child’s ability is key with fine motor skills, every child progresses in their own time and at different levels, so it is important to be encouraging and supportive of their learning development. Fine motor skills can be taught with home objects like cheerios which provide an additional treat for the children – they get to eat the cheerios when they’re done. 

Putting in the time and effort to allow your child to explore concepts like sequences and patterns through creative methods like fine motor skills activities will help them in the future with a multitude of educational subjects. Using at home objects can encourage children to see sequences and patterns in daily life while using fine motor skills to harness their creativity. Fine motor skills help with learning and engage children with tools that will aid them with their gross motor skills as well. Gross motor skills are larger actions and movements performed by different parts of the body. Fine motor skills are appropriate for all ages and finding new and creative ways to develop activities for children depending on their needs is an exciting way to engage with your children. Fine motor skills can be used in things like a STEM challenge and will encourage them to think creatively for a lifetime.

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