STEM/STEAM: What Is It & Why Is It Important?

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New Baby WM

Oh hey #dailybabyavery at four days old!

When you become a Mom, it’s full steam ahead from the day they place that bundle of joy in your arms. But, as your children get older (and you start to lose steam, ha ha), the word actually starts to take on a whole new meaning.

Until I started working with Grandview Preparatory School last year, I had no idea what the acronyms STEAM or STEM meant. STEM is actually an acronym for:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

It’s a current movement in education to engage students in these four areas of learning.  Even though it was created in the 1990’s by the National Science Foundation to combat the reduction in science and math scores on an international level, the STEM movement only recently gained an increased audience throughout the United States.  Many educational experts predict that the future economy of the US will be a marrying of arts and science and as a result added the “A” to STEM and made it STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).

We partnered with our friends at Bluprint Learning to find out the real deal behind this movement and why it’s important to MBMoms with young children.

  1. What is STEM/STEAM?

STEM/STEAM attempts to engage students in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics in a hands-on and personal approach.  The purpose is to help students understand the importance of these subjects, to gain an interest in these subjects and to create a population of long-term participants in the ongoing development and creation of jobs in these areas.

Schools are adding a variety of new curriculum that engages and excites learning.  Some examples include robotics classes, computer programming and computer-driven design classes like graphic design and mechanic engineering.

  1. Why should this matter to me as a parent of a toddler or preschooler?

STEM/STEAM learning engages students, builds critical thinking skills, helps prepare students for the new economy and provides real-world experience for learners of all ages.

The United States is far behind most of the developed world in science and math scores and, as a result, has the lowest number of high-level applicants for jobs in these fields.  And, the U.S. Department of Labor found that of the 20 fastest growing occupations in 2014, 15 of them required a high level of math and science. This graphic says is all:

STEM Graphic

  1. How are schools in our area implementing this new curriculum?

Schools are developing new programs to introduce and engage students in STEM/STEAM learning.  Here are some examples:

  • Poinciana Elementary School in Boynton Beach recently launched a STEM program at their school and last year hosted a Lego League Invitation Tournament, which matches students’ robots ability to navigate around a course though teamwork and innovation.

Poinciana Elementary

  • Liberty Elementary in Margate, Florida also has a STEM program at their school and showcases all of the students’ work at their STEM Museum.

Liberty Elementary

  • Boca Raton Elementary School is a Technology School of Choice in Boca. Here, students engage in many types of technology throughout the subject areas.
  1. What are some of the tools being used in the STEM/STEAM movement?

There are a variety of tools and programs being used to introduce students to STEM/STEAM.  Here are just a few:

  • Little Bits: Many schools districts are partnering with Little Bits to introduce electronics, circuitry, and programming to students as young as kindergarten.  The system is easy to use (color coded), safe (magnetic), and extremely versatile (thousands of ways to link the bits).

Little Bits

  • Bee-Bots: These little robots are designed specifically for young children.  Skills being taught with Bee-Bot include sequencing, estimation, and problem-solving.

Bee Bot

  • Quirkbot: The newest addition to the robotic movement, these small programmable robots use drinking straws and can be constructed into a variety of ways.

Quirk bot

5. How can I best prepare my child to be ready for this type of learning? 

Students can be introduced to STEM/STEAM learning as early as pre-K.  Some of the toys we played with as children easily qualify as STEM/STEAM tools.

Some examples include etch-a-sketch, Lincoln logs, TINKERTOY, and of course, the ubiquitous LEGO. However, once children get to the age of discovery in a social setting, find a local after-school or enrichment program geared toward STEM/STEAM learning.

There are many programs that teach robotics, circuitry, computer programming, and electronics.   The bottom line is to make sure your child is introduced to STEM/STEAM concepts early so that they can build these skills alongside language, mathematics, social skills, health and athletics.

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Sponsored: This post was sponsored by Bluprint Learning. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the sponsor.  Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.



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