4 Practical Ways to Support STEAM Learning at Home

By: Mollie Shauger | Wednesday, October 9, 2019 | Youth Programs

A boy builds with cups. Credit: Y-USA

Children are learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math, or STEAM for short, from the day they are born, by exploring their surroundings to understanding cause-and-effect relationships. Learning and practicing STEAM fosters a child’s ingenuity and creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. It also helps to build their resiliency and self-confidence.

Supporting STEAM doesn't mean your child has to build robots in their bedroom. Here are some easy ways to involve these concepts in everyday activities and interactions.

1. Ask questions. 

Use “STEAM language” in daily conversations with children. Ask open-ended questions like “What do you think will happen?” or “What did you notice?” to encourage reflection, creative and independent thinking, and problem solving. 

2. Relate STEAM to everyday tasks.

Make daily chores a chance to learn about STEAM. When cooking, for example, involve children in the process of measuring ingredients and observing the chemical reactions that occur through mixing and heating. If you’re at the store, have your child help count out money to pay for items so they can practice math skills.

3Explore the outdoors.

Nature is one of the best and most accessible learning tools. Ask your child about the colors, textures, temperatures and shapes they observe outside. The fall is a great opportunity to learn about how more sunlight and cooler temperatures cause the leaves to change colors.

4. Experiment at home.

Have children use objects like blocks, toothpicks, straws, or paper to design their own projects and challenges. Try these building challenges provided by the YMCA:

  • Toothpick bridge: Have youth create a bridge using toothpicks and mini marshmallows. See how long and how high their bridges can be, and test whether the bridges can hold weight.
  • Make the tallest structure you can: Challenge youth to see how high they can build. Be sure they test different materials to see what works best!
  • Egg drop challenge: Design a system that will protect an egg from cracking or breaking from a high fall. Have participants take some time to plan and draw their designs and then get to work building it. Challenge them to think about why their designs will protect the egg. Don’t forget to have them test their designs and head back to the drawing board to keep improving them!

The YMCA provides opportunities for STEAM-based learning through its child care, enrichment and summer camp programs. Visit metroymcas.org to browse programs or contact your local YMCA branch to learn more. Because the Y is for All, financial assistance is available to help eligible individuals and families who want to participate in Y programs.


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