How to Get Kids Excited About STEM
STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) is such an important part of education today, and for good reason: most careers in today’s economy are based on some aspect of STEM. And even more fundamentally, a child who can think like a scientist can apply those critical thinking skills and curiosity to any field they wish to pursue. Here are some simple ways to get kids excited about STEM at any age!
Related Post: STEM Fun for Kids
I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase. I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
How to Get Kids Excited About STEM
1. Keep It Fun
There are all kinds of fun ways to get kids excited about STEM – from picture books to crafts and field trips. Experiment and see what gets your kids interested! Pay attention to what they love and use that as a way to start their explorations. For example, when my oldest became fascinated with carnivorous plants, we checked out as many books as we could, did crafts, made snacks in the shape of the plants he loved, and took a trip to San Francisco to see an exhibit!
There are so many ways to explore. Try visiting your local science museum – they are always so fun, and will introduce your child to new topics they may not have considered. A visit will definitely get your child fired up about science!
You can also explore at home by taking an activity they enjoy and helping them experience it in new ways! Old Tracks, New Tricks is a great new book to get kids excited about STEM from an early age. You may be thinking, what does playing with trains have to do with STEM? Plenty! This is not only a fun story (what happens when a group of fun-loving train tracks are adopted into a home where the trains make everyone stick to their rules?), it is wonderful for inspiring play and learning. Through this imaginative tale, kids are invited to think outside the box and use favorite toys in new ways. Who says you can’t use your train tracks for painting or to build trees or high tower jumps? I love that this book really empowers kids to be creators by coming up with their own projects! As soon as we read this book the first time, my kids jumped up and raced to pull out the train tracks. Soon they were building and creating – and kept going all morning!
I love how the @oldtracksnewtricks book from @theinnovationpress (shown in the foreground) inspires creativity! Warning : don’t read this book with your kids unless you are prepared for hours of screen free play! My kids immediately wanted to pull out the train tracks and work on some of the “track tricks” shown in the book. Shown here is my 4 yo exercising his engineering skills to figure out how to attach Legos to the trains. #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #kidbloggersofig #sacramento #visitsacramento #mysacramento #exploresac #raisingnerds #geeknation #stem #playmatters #instagood #instakids #learningthroughplay #love #kbnmoms #childhoodunplugged #motherhoodunplugged #ig_motherhood #playtime #mytinymoments #ourcandidlife #homeschooling #kbnhs #trains
2. Focus on Hands on Learning
Kids really get excited when you take learning out into the real world and give them projects they can do for themselves. We recently attended a Science and Engineering Night at our homeschool charter school (yes! a charter school that supports homeschoolers – we love it!). My kids loved jumping in and getting involved in so many projects, from making slime and building towers to participating in an astronaut-in-training obstacle course. What fun ways to get kids excited about STEM!
Another station from Science and Engineering night: how high can you build a tower with just index cards, paper clips, and tape? #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #kidbloggersofig #sacramento #visitsacramento #mysacramento #exploresac #raisingnerds #geeknation #stem #playmatters #instagood #instakids #learningthroughplay #love #kbnmoms #childhoodunplugged #motherhoodunplugged #ig_motherhood #playtime #mytinymoments #ourcandidlife #homeschooling #kbnhs #abmlifeiscolorful #abmhappylife #abmlifeissweet #engineering
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A fun way to recreate this learning at home is to use a STEM project guide like the new STEAM AHEAD! DIY for KIDS. This great activity pack includes making and building activities for kids ages 4 to 10. There is such a variety of projects included here, that you are guaranteed to find ones that you and your kids will enjoy!
From LED cards and scribbling bots to squishy circuits and bubble blowers, there is something for everyone! And note that this is STEAM, not just STEM – that extra “A” stands for Art and means that it includes craft projects that also teach science – score! Find even more resources to get kids excited about STEM on the WizKids Club website – and grab a free download – an alien doodle book!
3. Empower Them
If you loved Rosie Revere, Engineer then I know you will be just as excited as I am to learn that there is now an activity book to go along with it! Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers is a wonderful companion to the bestselling children’s book, building on the excitement it created around engineering and STEM. It includes 40+ things to invent, draw, and make. I love that it really encourages kids to use their imaginations and become inventors and creators themselves. The book also puts a big emphasis on failure as part of the engineering process. It celebrates flops and encourages kids to track their own as part of the fun of inventing. “Think about a time you failed at something and wanted to quit. Draw a picture to show how you felt. What did you learn?”
When kids are empowered to learn from their mistakes, they feel more confident to try new things and not give up. This is especially helpful if you have a little perfectionist in your house or if you are one yourself! Worrying about getting things just right the first time can really hold them back. Make sure they know that mistakes are not only okay – they are great! Mistakes help propel the process of invention forward, so encourage your kids to be proud of what they have learned.
Related Post: Books to Teach Critical Thinking
4. Trust Them
If we want to get kids excited about STEM, we need to teach them to trust themselves and follow their curiosity. Science is all about exploration, so we have to equip them with the self-confidence to try new things – and fail. And try again. Having a growth mindset, where failure is not only okay but required, will help them develop perseverance and a belief in themselves as problem solvers. This means loosening up the reins a bit and giving them the freedom to explore, even when we know (or at least we think we know!) that something will not work. (Or that it will be messy or disgusting!)
Want to see if you can grow a bean plant in complete darkness? Let’s find out! Want to experiment with ways to grow mold on bread? Sure! Sometimes kids need to find out things for themselves, so we have to give them space to do just that.
This is one of the many reasons I love Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras), the first installment in a new book series about a girl whose mother not only trusts her with a big secret (there are magical animals in the forest that need our help!) but also trusts her to take care of the animals while she is away. This is a great book to showcase the scientific method, as Zoey and her pet Sassafras carefully experiment to find out why a baby dragon is sick. I also loves that it shows a kid who is empowered to figure out a problem on her own – and ask for help when she needs it. We can’t wait to read the entire series!
5. Turn It Into an Adventure
If you know anything about the world of science for kids, you know about Bill Nye, the Science Guy! We have used his super fun YouTube videos to teach many a scientific concept, so I was really excited to see that he had co-created a new chapter book series for kids! Jack and the Geniuses: At the Bottom of the World is the first installment in an exciting new middle grade adventure series that features real-world science in a way that is engaging and accessible. Jack and his friends travel to Australia for a science competition, but when one of the scientists goes missing, they are drawn into a mystery that will have them racing to solve clues before it’s too late! I love how hands on science is woven into the story. This book also shows what actual, grown up scientists do, so kids can imagine themselves as part of the scientific world. This book is easy to read without being watered down, so it’s great for reluctant readers as well as those already curious about science. Includes additional information about the science shown in the book as well as an experiment kids can do at home or in the classroom!
What are your favorite ways to get kids excited about STEM? Share in the comments!