STEM Is the New Black

STEM Is the New BlackScience. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics. STEM is a relatively new buzz word in the education world, and you can find any number of clubs, organizations, classes, camps, curricula, and even toys to promote it. The idea is that by promoting these areas of interest and inquiry in the classroom, we are aiding students to better navigate the “real world.” I’ve always disliked that term in reference to education. As if school and school-work are not real. The reality is, STEM programs are beneficial, and are serving our students well in terms of teaching them how to problem solve and work collaboratively. Genius Hour, Lego League, Robotics Club, Project Lead the Way, and Maker Spaces are just a few of the clubs and course offerings you’ll find at your local schools.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Lewis and Clark Elementary in the Liberty Public School District, where I chatted with Library Media Specialist, Angela Rosheim, about their Maker Space. According to Mrs. Rosheim, the best thing about the Maker Space is, “The change in kids’ thinking. Instead of a teacher telling them do this, then this, etc… kids have to figure out how to come the conclusion they desire on their own, solve problems, come to conclusions.” Maker Spaces and STEM projects give kids lots of opportunity for productive struggle. It helps them learn to see failure as a good thing, a way to learn. And, they are almost always having fun in the meantime.

As we gear up for a long summer, I challenge you to add a STEM activity, or three, to your summer bucket list. To help you get started, here are some easy ways to add a little STEM to you life…

1. Check out any of these great STEM inspired products: littleBits, Makey Makey, Dot and Dash, Ollie, or Squishy Circuits.

2. If you have any old electronics around the house…give them to your learner, with some basic tools, and let them go to town taking things apart to see how they work.

3. Consider adding STEM apps to your iPad or tablet. Apps like Tynker or Scratch are good places to start.

4. Attend Kansas City’s Maker Faire with your family.

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