STEM

When you hear the word “stem” you usually think of
various types of plants. However, when we think of STEM we are really focusing
on something different. We at the Children’s Museum in Easton spoke with our
outreach educators Krissy Cannizzo and Michelle VanVoorhis about what STEM
really means and how we’re using it to enhance your child’s education!

The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics.
“The Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition works to support STEM programs for
teachers and students at the U. S. Department of Education, the National
Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM related programs,”
explains Michelle, “Members of the STEM Coalition believe that our nation must
improve the way our students learn science, mathematics, technology and
engineering and that the business, education, and STEM communities must work
together to achieve this goal.”
Many children grow up learning to be fearful of these
fields. They think they are boring or too hard or simply follow in their parents’
footsteps. If you despise these subjects, there is a good chance your children
will learn that from you. However, through implementing STEM ideologies the
coalition aims to garner more interest in these subjects for the bettering of
your children’s education, and ultimately, our society.
As Michelle expands on this idea she says, “My aim is
for children to feel that science, technology, engineering, and math are
activities they can enjoy doing.  Through
these fun activities, children can develop basic understandings and be inspired
to continue to pursue interests in these areas. 
Parents can also come to the understanding that STEM is not ‘just for
boys’ or ‘just for smart people’. “
You may be asking, “how can math, science, and
technology be easy?” Well, there are actually many simple activities you can do
that use these principles if only you look at them in different ways.
Krissy provides us some examples: “Yesterday I was at a
YMCA in West Roxbury where the children built (engineered) boats then tested the
strength and durability of their designs using weighted mainipulatives.  I then incorporate mathematics in the
experiment by challenging them to add and subtract weight.  
Our second project involved testing and mixing amounts
of food coloring to water (mathematics) to make the primary colors and then
giving them the opportunity to explore and mix colors on wax paper (
science/chromatology).  After using paper
towels to blot up the mixed colors, the children could let the paper towels dry
and construct (engineer) butterflies.  
The last project provided the children to briefly learn
about the history of dinosaurs and their extinction through the ice ages.  I gave each child a cup of ice with a
dinosaur frozen inside which they can explore ways to excavate using salt, warm
water vs. cold water, etc.”
There are a lot of different activities parents and
families can do with their children that promote this type of developmental
learning. Your children will be learning while having fun!
Krissy says, “Visit the http://www.connectsemass.org/stem/
website along with the PBS Zoom and Fetch sites that can recommend activities,
games and books, visit their local libraries especially this summer.  The local libraries in the SAIL Network are
offering free workshops related to STEM, and of course visit the Children’s
Museum in Easton where STEM can be found in all the exhibits.”
The Children’s Museum in Easton works hard to
incorporate STEM in both the museum and its programs. Michelle shows us that
STEM is incorporated in “The Fetch lab, many of the drop in classes, the
Raceways, Wild Place…and parents can incorporate STEM questions almost
anywhere, such as counting, estimating, predicting, building, designing,
comparing, etc.” The Museum even offers Education Outreach programs that come to you! Check them out here: http://cmeaston.org/educationoutreach0.aspx
No matter who you are, Science, Technology, Engineering
and Math are all important in the world we live in. The STEM program is great
for getting your child off to the right start! Whether you begin trying some
activities at home or you bring your children to our museum, keep these
ideologies in mind and your children will be on a great track.

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