STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, an educational plan which encourages learning the scientific process. The concept behind STEM is to interest children in science and math earlier, motivating them to pursue these fields during secondary education.
Preschool: Basics of Math and Science
Babies are born with the scientific process at their disposal. They observe new things, formulate hypothesis, experiment, form theories based on the results, and share those results with their peers.
- Sorting Shapes and Sizes – This exercise teaches important comparison techniques that will be useful in future STEM activities.
- Observation Skills – Simple games like choosing the ball that is a different color, or the difference between cold/hot and wet/dry teach observation and comparison.
- Patterns and Sets – Learning about capital and lowercase letters or even and odd numbers are simple games that teach pattern and set recognition skills.
Fun Science: Ages 4 to 6
Mathematics are fundamental to science and engineering. Simple experiments teach children complex arithmetic without making it look like math.
- States of Matter – Water and rock are extremes of liquid and solid. Water is excellent for experimenting with converting from one state to another, from solid to gaseous.
- Volume and Displacement – Using solids and liquids together, children learn that adding a solid to a container of liquid increases the volume in the container.
- Edible Building Blocks – Building 2- and 3-dimensional shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks teaches engineering and geometry skills that are delicious when the lesson in complete.
Scientific Process: Ages 6 to 9
The world we live in is filled with opportunity to learn about science and chemistry. Household ingredients make excellent tools to instruct and inform children.
- Basic Chemistry – Pour a bit of vinegar into a 2-liter bottle and a teaspoon of baking soda in the cap. Crush the bottle, screw the cap on quickly, and stand back as chemistry goes into action.
- Observing Weather – Heating a small amount of water in a bottle creates condensation that can be used to explain why it rains.
- Starving Flame – Covering a tea candle with a glass jar teaches about oxygen requirements and can be expanded to teach basic environmental lessons, including carbon buildup in the atmosphere.
Biology and Physical Sciences: Ages 9 to 12
- Understanding Biomes – Learning how plants and animals interact to create a sustainable ecosystem helps children understand life cycles and extinction events.
- Natural Energy – Natural energy is everywhere, from the sun heating a dark surface to an LED light powered by a lemon or potato, or the wind turning a pinwheel.
- Weather Observations – Predicting the weather begins with observing cause and effect. Why it rains, the relation of air temperature to rain showers, and why seasons change are excellent learning opportunities.
When children can make things happen as they learn, the lessons will last a lifetime. Encourage experimentation, explaining why and how things work – from the science behind the difference between a screw and a nail to the reason heating changes ingredients into desserts. Montessori education encourages students to explore and interact on their own. Contact the Montessori School of Fremont today to learn how hands-on learning is integrated into the Montessori curriculum on a daily basis.
This article originally appeared on Montessori Schools of Fremont’s blog.