STEM Activities for Children: Tips for  Homeschooling Parents

After ten years of research on STEM education for preschoolers and elementary students, we've got a lot to say about the importance of block play for young children as well as the importance of STEM mentors. In fact, our research shows that mentors (teachers, parents, grandparents....) aren't simply important—they're critical in helping children feel confident and capable in STEM.

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Suddenly homeschooling? How to use the Design & Engineering Process in STEM activities with your kids

Good news: Kids are already using the Design & Engineering Process

That means your job is to simply help your kids understand what they're already doing naturally. Take a look at a few real-world examples of the Design & Engineering Process that kids are already involved in, and notice what these things all have in common.

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A Guide to The 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills

Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking

One of the main aims of the education system is preparing students to fill jobs in the workforce. That workforce has evolved greatly in the last few decades with the advent of the Digital Age. It has become much more technology-driven with a high demand for workers in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Furthermore, all indications from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics are for continued rapid growth in the type and number of STEM-related jobs across various industries. In fact, the rate of employment growth in STEM occupations was double that of non-STEM fields between 2009-2015, and the trends don’t show signs of slowing. 

Educators have taken note of this trend and its implications for the teaching-learning process. In 2002, the National Education Association (NEA), the United States Department of Education, and several high-ranking companies in the information and technology sector spearheaded the formation of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a national advocacy organization that encourages the use of technology in education and provides tools and resources to support it.

Over the years, P21 has refined the list of desirable skills for the STEM-enabled workforce into what is now known as the 4 Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. These skills work in tandem with the knowledge-based and technical skills children are taught, in order to foster deeper learning in all content areas. 

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Scientific Thinking for Kids

We all learned the scientific method in school, and you may still have a few preconceived ideas about it because of your experience. Maybe you remember it as a structured approach used for science fair projects or lab experiments. This rigid view that’s applied in science class is not applicable to everyday life. But the scientific method shouldn’t be seen as inflexible or exclusive to the science classroom. In fact, you use the scientific method every day. Think of it as a logical process for solving a problem and gaining knowledge.

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How to use the Engineering & Design Cycle in STEM activities for kids

“The Engineering and Design Cycle? NGSS?? First Common Core, and now this new stuff. I can barely cover all the things I need to as it is, how am I supposed to fit in another thing? And Engineering?!? I can’t teach that, I wouldn’t even know where to begin!....”

If you’re like me, you might sometimes feel a sense of overwhelm as you’re asked to do more and more in the classroom, often with less resources. But I have great news: NGSS (short for Next Generation Science Standards) may be a new abbreviation to learn, but the Engineering and Design Cycle (also known as the Engineering and Design Process) is actually something most of you are already doing in your classroom. Rather than seeing it as a list of things you have to accomplish, NGSS can be reframed as a unique way to build classroom culture that embraces STEM education. It’s a way to teach students to work together, challenge themselves, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.

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STEM Activities for Children: Tips and Tricks for Adult Mentors

After ten years of research on STEM education for preschoolers and elementary students, we've got a lot to say about the importance of block play for young children as well as the importance of STEM mentors. In fact, our research shows that mentors (teachers, parents, grandparents....) aren't simply important—they're critical in helping children feel confident and capable in STEM.

Read More

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Go beyond the buzzword with Kid Spark.

At Kid Spark Education, STEM isn't a buzzword: it's a powerful way to nurture students' natural curiosity; build confidence and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math; and foster abilities in collaboration, problem-solving, and communication. You, their teachers, are our most important partner in achieving our mission of preparing all children for a lifetime of learning about science and technology. The Kid Spark Blog is written by educators, for educators to be a resource in your toolbox so you can feel confident and capable in teaching STEM to your elementary students. 

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