There is no shortage of quality “stay at home science” resources hitting email inboxes and social media feeds right now as parents prioritize experiential learning opportunities while juggling required remote school work and companies jockey for airtime to stay relevant.
The sheer number of TikTok videos, at-home STEAM kit offers, livestreams and more make me as a parent want to pull my hair out! Where do I start? But, as a long-time STEAM professional, educator, and parent myself, this is a gentle reminder to take a deep breath. At-home STEAM learning can be done in a simple and fun way and you’re most likely already doing this!
Kids are prepared for STEAM already
Those little beings in your home are innately prepared to explore STEAM subjects due to their egregious curiosity, their desire to touch and manipulate everything, and their resilience to failure and wanting to experiment. I used to say that every time my daughter threw her sippy cup, she was being a scientist, testing height, velocity and fluid mechanics.
YOU are prepared for STEAM already
You don’t need fancy equipment to promote STEAM learning and much of what you need is likely staring you in the face, be it last night’s plastic take-out containers, Amazon boxes, cans of soup or beans in your pantry, to the new leaves growing on the trees above you. Sure, it’s fun to order boxes of STEAM learning but you should not struggle over deciding which brand or what items are the best.
You are not (and should not) be an expert
We do a disservice to our children if we feel like we need to know all of the answers to their questions or practice experiments ahead of time to anticipate questions and failures. Testing and failing is part of the scientific process and one adults need to exhibit for kids. Promoting growth mindset, the famous theory by Dr. Carol Dweck, celebrates struggles and failures and has been proven to be a key part of developing a scientific mind. As adults, we have been trained that failure is bad. I’m telling you to ignore that voice inside your head and fail with your children. It’s amazing what discoveries stem from failure!
Make it easy and fun
My biggest recommendation is to encourage STEAM learning in your everyday life. That junk drawer with all those random items? Have your little scientist clean it out by classifying and categorizing its contents. Did your unorganized Tupperware drawer explode onto your floor when stowing away leftovers? That’s the perfect time to play with bases and structures to build the tallest tower or support a spoon on top. Make an old school sundial with a stick and go outside each hour to observe the changes in the shadow from the sun. These activities can take less than 10 minutes, give us all a chance to try something fun and explore!
As a working parent, I know the struggle of juggling face-to-face time and promoting independent play with your children. The organization I lead, Digi-Bridge, is here to support both of these important parts of parenting through the following resources:
- #STEAMSearch - Each week we post a new STEAM-based scavenger hunt that your students can explore independently or with a sibling or you!
- LEGO Robotics Rentals - Our Digi-Bridge LEGO Robotics Kits are available for rent. Each rental includes a robotics kit and online instruction time.
- Bots & Brews AT HOME - a STEAM kit paired with local brews with online facilitator-led content.
As we remain under these conditions for a while longer, I leave you with this parting advice. STEAM is not all-or-nothing and you can do what you can that is manageable for you and your family. Lean on local leaders for support. We are here to help you. Lastly, go outside! It’s amazing what quick break outdoors can do for both you and your children.
Alyssa Sharpe is the CEO of Digi-Bridge and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.