Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are academic disciplines that have an impact on our everyday lives. Taking tablets for a headache, video chatting to loved ones, driving to the shops or planning a monthly budget, each one has influence on what we do.
Known by most as STEM, these subjects are taught to children and can then become a career for an adult who decides to go down one of the four avenues.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to dictate what we can and can’t do, and despite schools starting to slowly re-open from 1 June, a lot of parents will still be left occupying the role of substitute STEM teachers. And, despite, the ongoing debate on whether it’s safe for children to go back, there’s still a lot that can be done to help children learn these key skills at home.
With this in mind, we highlight what you can do, how to do it, and celebrate those who’ve been keeping STEM firmly in the spotlight.
What impact can toys actually have?
Children playing with toys related to STEM can boost their neurological development and give them a greater understanding of the four subjects.
Backed up by a clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children can thrive from having the responsibility to decide how they get creative, and from that freedom, play time helps them have fun and develop skills at the same time.
Toys like computers and robots can keep children entertained right up until dinner time. At the same time, parents will have peace of mind that they are having educational fun.
Learning code to train a robot or physically building one are both brilliant ways of introducing STEM and play into their lives. Toy diggers are a great way to teach and introduce engineering if you don’t want them staring at a screen all day.
The great examples set for children
Over the last 10 weeks we’ve seen everything from fast food chains sharing recipes, gin makers producing hand sanitiser, and a host of businesses creating handmade face masks.
The world of STEM has followed suit, with the likes of National Geographic, CGI, Network Rail and Santander (in partnership with Twinkl and the F2 Freestylers) putting together creative ways for children to learn.
Science – Restaurants are closed, you’ve had enough of takeaways, and your role as chef was only meant to be part-time. To help bring a new lease of life to the kitchen and keep your kids entertained, National Geographic has put together some quick examples of cooking techniques that children can get involved with and learn at the same time.
Measuring liquids, weighing salt, whisking, and seasoning vegetables all feature as cool ways to teach children about science. If you’ve been waiting for a relief from cooking, give this one a go.
Technology – Glasgow-based firm CGI launched their ‘STEM from Home’ activities aimed at children between the ages of six and 14. The activities include coding, robotics the environment, sport, and healthy living. Enough resources were initially created to last 12 weeks, with more set to follow. The variety of activities is a great way for children to learn about a range of subjects.
Engineering – With a clear focus on trains and engineering, Network Rail’s pack contains tasks and activities for ages between five and 16. The resource pack is super useful for parents who have been classed as key workers, and may still need their children to learn from home. But, not just that, it could inspire the children of those in the rail industry to follow in their footsteps.
Mathematics – Football and mathematics aren’t often seen as going hand-in-hand. But, thanks to a partnership between Twinkl, Santander and the F2 Freestylers, young people have had the opportunity to brush up on their football tricks and mathematics skills at the same time – with the latter focusing on times tables and telling the time, the two most searched maths themes on Twinkl’s website.
With over 12 million subscribers, having the F2 on-board is a great way for Twinkl to spread the message on the importance of mathematics during the lockdown and beyond.
The apprenticeship route
The car industry a fantastic example of how young people can go straight into workplace once they finish college, despite an array of universities now offering promising STEM undergraduate degrees. With engineering playing such a vital role in the world of automotive vehicles, it’s important that young people continue to choose this route as a way of building a career.
Look no further than Rob Pallent-Bright, a Lookers apprentice based at Lookers Ford Braintree. Playing a key role in the servicing of cars like the Ford Mondeo Hybrid, Rob’s hard work paid dividends when he walked away with two major gongs in the same week, back in November 2019.
Winning the sought-after Ford Apprentice of the Year for 2019 award and the overall winner prize at the WorldSkills 2019 finals in the Automotive Technology category, it’s proof that success can be achieved in STEM. With opportunities available through apprenticeships, initiatives during lockdown, and education when the schools re-open, the chances of industry gaps being plugged is increased, and hopefully for years to come.
As you can see this from article, STEM companies, education organisations and even influencers are joining the cause to help children learn more about what could turn into a successful career path for them. When you consider the part science, technology, engineering and mathematics plays in everyday life, you might just be downloading learning packs, watching YouTube videos, and getting the little chef hats out sooner rather than later.