STEM: How To Mold Your Child Into A Future Engineer
From the mathematical processes involved in building, scientific discovery through experimenting, learning about electronics via circuitry, to toys and apps that demystify computer programming, there are no shortage of hands-on STEM learning experiences for our future engineers. It’s never too early to start exposing children to these subjects, and here are some of the most age appropriate ways to engage them in hands-on learning that will foster their curiosity throughout their development.
Future Engineers Aged 3-5
Kids this age need manipulatives that will let them explore their curiosities, figure out the world through play, and tap into their imagination.
- Wooden blocks– Inspire a generation of civil engineers with a classic set of wooden blocks that will inspire hours of open ended play. Lay them flat to make roads or stack them on top of each other to create a block city, the possibilities are endless!
- Shape sorter– Shape sorters are a multipurpose learning tool that teach fine motor skills as well as matching, beginning geometry, and colors.
Future Engineers Aged 6-8
This age group is experiencing huge development in their social, emotional, and academic skills. Learning experiences should allow them to have fun while practicing what they know but also increase their confidence and self-esteem in STEM subjects.
- Marble run – The learning possibilities are endless when you present a child with a marble run. Figuring out how to use slopes, bends, twists, turns, varied heights, along with gravity is a creative engineering challenge for this age. Trial and error makes kids go back and experiment and persevere until they experience success. Since there’s never a right or wrong way to build a run, kids can be as imaginative as they want!
- Electronic circuit set- Companies like Snap Circuits and littleBits make it easy for kids to use their creative power to learn how electric current moves through a circuit. They’ll experience building parallel and series circuits in safe and age appropriate ways while gaining an understanding of the electronics in today’s technology.
Tween-aged Future Engineers
With one foot firmly still planted in childhood and the other inching towards the teen years, tweens often feel stuck between cute and grown up. This age group possesses growing self-confidence, independence, and academic skills that need to be nurtured. Encourage kids ages 9-12 to be their best selves by fostering their growing interests.
- Coding kits- Computer game loving tweens can use their knowledge of favorite games to code their own. There are no shortage of online resources to teach kids to code and products such as Let’s Start Coding makes coding fun and engaging for beginners.
- Robotics sets– With new developments being made in artificial intelligence, robots are increasingly present in daily life and will only become more advanced as time goes on. Meccano M.A.X. incorporates building and the trend of artificial intelligence with the lifelong skill of programming into one very cool robot that comes to life when completed.
Teens love a challenge that will tap into their existing knowledge base but allow them to grow and expand what they already know as they think ahead to potential future careers.
- Build your own computer- There are plenty of engineering careers that rely on computers so let your teen build their own to get a better understanding of the components and how they work. Components such as Arduino microcontroller boards and Raspberry Pi can be purchased individually or you may elect to get a kit such as Kano and Piper that contains everything your teen needs in a single box.
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