As a Sonlight.com ambassador, I am excited to share some of their products in this post.
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I’ve got to tell you that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) does NOT come naturally to me. I’m a history/literature kind of a person, and it still boggles my mind that I am a robotics coach. (What we do for our kids-seriously!)
If you are like me, and you want to bring more STEM into your family culture or afterschooling, I’ve got a ton of great ideas for you that have really worked well for my family- and that don’t require me to be a science whiz!
Most of us probably know about Snap Circuits, Magformers, Scratch and other common STEM toys. But here are some other ideas you might not be as familiar with:
For Younger Children
2. Brackitz Pulleys: My kids are loving this building set, complete with pulleys, ropes and a bucket! There are a ton of building variations (draw bridge, ziplines, etc), and the kids always have a blast. What a fun way to introduce engineering!
3. There is something so fascinating about gears. And when you make them into battling tops…well, may the best engineer win! Cue the Rumble Tops Challenge Crate!
4. Muggins and Knock out: I know I’ve posted about these before, but they really do make math fun! The more creative you are with numbers, the more you win!
6. Start your own robotics team. I’m not going to lie: it’s pretty intense. But the kids learn engineering, programming, technical writing, public speaking and do a science project. Best of all, they are using Legos and LOVE it! (And no, you really don’t need to know anything about robotics–these kids are waaay smarter than I am! I’m basically just a facilitator.)
STEM For Tweens and Teens
7. Check out The Kid Should See This. I am seriously in love with this website. They curate super cool STEM videos from Youtube and find those that would be interesting for kids. They are amazing! (They also have videos for younger children.)
8. Build something! A fort, a storage shed…I know a family who even build an entire HOUSE together! You’d better believe that those kids know their fractions, what a weight bearing beam is, and a whole lot more!
9. Start a (different) robotics team: now, you do need to be smart STEM-wise to do this. The tech my high school robotics group uses is amazing. But ask other parents to help! It doesn’t have to be all you. We’ve been fortunate with our team to have a programming/computer whiz and a former physics tutor as parents. They are amazing. Again, I just help facilitate. And the kids are super smart. They even 3D print their own parts and run a website.
10. Look into professional certificates. Remember how I said we 3D print some of our parts? A 16 year old girl is our 3D designer. She uses Solidworks– it is the industry standard for 3D CAD design. She went through the tutorials on her own, and just finished the course requirements. Now, she just needs to take the professional certification test- and then she can get paid $40/hour as she saves for college. THAT is pretty darn amazing. (Solidworks also has a beta version for young children. It’s a bit glitchy, but still super cool.) Get yourself a 3D printer and watch magic happen!
However you try to bring STEM into your home, I really believe it will pay back dividends. Our world is changing. We can fight it, or we can try to get ahead of the curve and take advantage of the changes. It’s accessible to everyone, pretty much everywhere, and there are options for a variety of budgets. Best of all, you DON’T need to be a smarty-pants parent to make it work in your home.