(BPT) - After an international study in 2006 placed the United States near the bottom for scientific knowledge, STEM concepts became a priority. And, Nov. 8 became what’s now known as National STEAM Day. While every National STEAM Day brings engagement in STEAM top of mind, this year it is more important than ever. The need for STEAM skills is clear, but after months of disrupted learning and low engagement, it can be challenging to get students engaged in their learning again.
Hands-on learning that incorporates STEAM concepts is a great way to do this — whether you’re in the classroom or at home. Playful learning experiences provide a way for students to naturally discover and engage in STEAM. And when students are engaged, learning becomes more motivating, memorable, and meaningful. In addition to academic knowledge, students will also need a variety of 21st century skills for the future.
To celebrate National STEAM Day today and beyond, here are a few ways to help get your kids engaged and excited about STEAM:
Start with the Familiar
When children can naturally practice using skills to explore, learn, and grow, they build confidence in their own abilities and feel better prepared to take on the next challenge. But where to start?
Identify subjects or learning tools that have already sparked interest in your child and use those to explore new topics and concepts. The LEGO Education Build to Launch Series — developed in collaboration with NASA — taps into something children already know and love: space exploration! The 10-week series inspires all children to explore STEAM concepts and careers through the upcoming Artemis I mission. The free content is open-ended, so children can fail, try again and succeed — all while learning STEAM concepts and having fun!
Rediscover the Power of Play
Social-emotional learning, commonly referred to as SEL, has only grown in importance throughout the pandemic, as teachers and parents look for ways to safeguard the emotional well-being of students and rebuild their confidence around learning. While many resources are available, SEL is more effective when integrated into the curriculum, such as through purposeful play.
The LEGO Foundation’s study into playful learning demonstrates the connection between children playing and their ability to cope with their environment. Play allows children to address challenges with creative solutions and begin to manage their anxiety in stressful situations — all in a controlled environment. Creating more opportunities for STEAM play, be it at school, at home, or in community settings, will provide children with the skills to help manage emotions and communicate more effectively.
Get Hands-On with Learning through Play
There are countless benefits to hands-on learning — from promoting curiosity and collaboration, to increasing engagement and confidence. Purposeful play helps children learn, supports inclusion, and reduces inequality. Children of any age and ability can find success with hands-on STEAM learning because of its flexibility and scalability.
Whether it’s an arts and crafts STEAM-inspired activity or a comprehensive STEAM solution like LEGO® Education SPIKETM Essential, hands-on learning allows students to find success. By engaging in hands-on activities through playful problem solving and storytelling, SPIKE Essential meets students where they are and allows them to explore important STEAM concepts, while building important 21st century skills and furthering their social-emotional development.
Give Children a Voice and a Choice
A Harris Poll survey demonstrated that engaging children in hands-on learning activities sparks creativity and joy, and it also helps build confidence in their own learning. When children have a chance to take ownership over their learnings and the outcome, they build the resilience to try new things. Think about how you can help your child feel empowered to learn and explore without worrying about a wrong answer or finding the one right answer.
Create Connections and Community
During school closures, students missed out on social and emotional experiences that are crucial during their formative years. Many after-school programs are offering both remote and in-person activities that can engage students through STEAM. From robotics clubs like FIRST LEGO League to pottery class or martial arts — there’s something for everyone to reconnect with their community and learn new skills.
Now is the time to get kids excited about STEAM learning and hands-on learning is the best way to do it. The Education Commission estimated that in less than a decade, more than 800 million children won’t have the basic skills to participate in the global workforce. And with so many future jobs requiring STEAM skills, it’s even more important to rethink learning and create experiences now that develop and future-proof children’s skills.
To learn more about engaging in hands-on and purposeful STEAM learning, visit legoeducation.com.