Understanding STEM Subjects

STEM encompasses a variety of subjects under the categories Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. A few years ago, it was decided that there weren’t enough graduates with qualifications in these fields and, as a result, it has become a priority for governments and educational professionals to try and attract young people to these types of course. It may help for parents to take this one step further and try and incorporate STEM learning into their at home activities, as discussed below by sixth form in Hertfordshire.

To start with, here are some examples of STEM subjects:

    • Accountancy
    • Astronomy 
  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • DT
  • Forensics
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • ICT
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

These subjects, amongst others not included in the above list, provide many benefits, and can lead to a range of career options for young adults. For instance, they support a child’s ability to solve problems by analysing information and assessing available resources. Often in these lessons, students will be asked to work in groups, which will help their communication and interpersonal skills and ability to work as part of a team. 

If you want to explore STEM with your children at home, it’s wise to start by talking about these subjects on a regular basis, to make them seem more familiar. If you’ve read about a medical breakthrough in the news, chat about it with your child. If a family member has been unwell, ask your child if they know much about how the immune system works. Get them to help you next time you’re changing a tyre or doing some gardening. Ask them to separate your recycling and explain why this is important. Watch a nature documentary together. Talking about these topics will get your child engaged and demonstrate to them how important STEM subjects are in the real world. Here are some more hands-on activities you can do with your child that involve STEM:

Talk A Walk Through the Woods

Nature is an important element of STEM. Take a walk through the woods and teach your child about different trees, animals, and bugs that you spot along the way. Ask them if they know what will happen to the trees when the seasons change. You could even turn it into a scavenger hunt and ask them to look for certain items, like conkers or acorns. Not only will this be educational for them, it’s also a chance for them to get some fresh air and exercise, which will improve their physical and mental wellbeing. 

Play Board Games

There are various board games that help improve STEM skills. Operation, for instance, will help your child become more familiar with different organs in the body. Monopoly will help them with their numeracy skills as they will be required to carry out simple sums. Board games also teach children important flairs, like patience and persistence.

Grow Your Own

As mentioned above, getting your child involved with the gardening is a great STEM learning activity. Grow your own vegetable garden and teach your child what’s involved in keeping plants alive i.e. they need plenty of water and sunlight. This is a rewarding activity because you’ll get to eat the vegetables once they’re full grown.  

Cooking/Baking

Cooking and baking are fantastic learning opportunities for youngsters. They will have to follow instructions, weigh/measure ingredients, calculate oven times and possibly even convert between different units of measurement. You can also talk to you child about why there is steam coming off the food while it’s boiling, or why things change in the oven. 

These are just a few ideas to get you started but should inspire you to come up with some ideas of your own. Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teachers if you would like some further information. 

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