What is STEM education?
STEM Education is learning based around four different subject areas – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. While these subjects have always been important, there has been an increased emphasis on them in recent years as it is predicted that STEM related jobs will only increase as technology advances. STEM job opportunities are growing at around 17% and are essential to our future. Therefore, it is vitally important that children and young people are equipped with the many skills they need to move into careers within the STEM industry.
At the heart of STEM learning is skills development but most of STEM learning should not just be from a textbook, it should be interactive, engaging, and interdisciplinary. It takes concepts learned and applies them to more real-life scenarios. In young children, STEM education focuses on harnessing curiosity and developing skills such as problem-solving based learning. If they show interest and have a passion for STEM at a young age, it is easier to develop and refine these skills as they get older.
Within STEM education there has also been a specific focus on developing STEM skills and interest in groups that are vastly underrepresented in STEM careers. Studies show that men are more than three times more likely to go into STEM careers than women, so there has been an increased focus on getting girls into STEM from a young age.
STEM education doesn’t just benefit children and young people who are naturally studious and focused. Studies have shown that STEM also can benefit learners with additional support needs as it teaches them key skills in a different way. For example, students with ADHD who may find it difficult to focus in a traditional classroom can often find themselves immersed in the most intricate of tasks when asked to programme robots or use their initiative to solve problems.
So how should you begin to introduce STEM education to your child? It really does depend on their age range. For children aged 4 and above, take a look at the Coding Critters range, such as Coding Critters Bopper, Hip and Hop. Coding Critters are fun pet playsets that can introduce basic coding skills from a young age. The buttons on the back of the adorable animals’ backs, can programme up to 30 steps at a time and help develop problem solving skills. For those that are slightly older, the Plaking DIY Stem Kits are a great way to introduce key STEM concepts through fun activities. Take the Twin Engine Plane – STEM toy, for example, aimed at ages 8 and above, this kit walks children through the steps to build their own live action plane. The kit teaches basic robotics in an accessible way and is extremely affordable as an introduction to these types of tasks.