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Supporting Little Scientists & Engineers

Research shows it is never too early to start engaging kids with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).


STEM activities build skills like creativity, problem solving and resilience, support social and emotional development and boost science knowledge and maths ability. 

 

It is also critical to start early to tackle stereotypes that can put off all children, and especially girls, from engaging with science and engineering. Earlier this month was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and the campaign acknowledges that offering opportunities at early years is essential to allow everyone to experience STEM, gain the associated skills and make future choices without being constrained by stereotypes. 

 

Happily, you don't need to be an expert, or require expensive resources, to have fun doing STEM activities with your child. Young children are natural scientists and engineers, in their play constantly exploring how things work and testing hypotheses (seeing what happens next when they try a particular action). 


Some great ideas to try include:

 

  • Introducing different materials - a great starting point is to explore different objects talking about size, shape, weight, texture and colour

  • Play with building toys (simple blocks work well or even cardboard boxes) using spatial language (up, down, behind, on top etc) 

  • Conduct experiments, e.g. at bathtime see what floats and what sinks or set up a ramp and explore how different toys roll down it and how far they go

  • Talk about engineering examples you see everyday pointing out different structures describing how they look, what materials they are made from and what problem they solve

  • Listen to songs - we love all the Hopscotch songs especially The Engineer Song that we collaborated on, but our other favourites are Habitats, The Planet Song and The Water Cycle. There are loads more though - which will you love the most? 

  • Read science and engineering related books, like Ada Twist or Rosie Revere or for younger ones things like the Baby loves series to start introducing ideas and vocabulary

  • As children get older try engineering challenges related to books that you read - classic ideas include things like building a strong house that won't blow down inspired by The Three Little Pigs or a new bridge for the Billy Goats to cross the river avoiding the troll.


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