CEO, Flinn Scientific
From navigating distanced learning and new educational technologies, to adhering to new safety protocols, the pandemic has created challenges for many students, parents, and educators this past year. And, unfortunately, this has led to unfinished learning across subject areas, including in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Now, with many students on summer break, it will be up to parents to keep their children engaged in STEM learning over the next few months in order to set them up for success in the fall.
Below are three ways parents can help accelerate learning and prepare their children for the rigors of the coming school year, all while making STEM learning an enjoyable and hands-on experience for all involved!
Let’s be honest, how many times have you had to ask your child to limit their non-school related screen time and turn off YouTube? Videos have a way of captivating children and well-vetted ones can certainly be a great learning tool.
There are a lot of great educational videos available that students can watch to see experiments in action and to learn about myriad scientific concepts, ranging from physics to chemistry to Earth science and everything in between. For example, on YouTube, National Geographic Kids has a lot of interesting, age-appropriate videos for children, and Flinn Scientific has a collection of cool experiments, as well as an at-home lab series.
During the school year, teachers can also have students watch STEM videos at home and work through examples, and then come back to class with any questions they may have. This allows for richer classroom discussion and more dedicated time for hands-on experimentation.
Understand the syllabus
As a parent, one of the best ways to support your children leading up to and during the school year is by understanding exactly what students are expected to learn and when they are expected to learn it.
Having a baseline understanding of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a set of expectations for what children should know and be able to do at each grade, as well as other state-level standards used, will go a long way in helping children catch up as needed and be prepared for grade-level success.
Make it fun
Whether the learning is happening in the classroom or at home, or if experimentation is taking place in the lab or outside, STEM learning should be fun and all about making real-world connections. So if you are on a family vacation to an amusement park this summer, take the opportunity to teach children about the physics of a rollercoaster. Or have children learn about the insect ecosystem before exploring a local park.
Of course, increased access to edtech and online technologies — from data-collection devices to video-rich curriculum to virtual trips to Mars — can further magnify and enrich these learning opportunities as children hone their skills.
So even as you and your children hopefully take a much-needed break this summer, remember there are many readily available, cost-effective resources and easy ways to support STEM exploration and, most importantly, keep the learning going.