I bet that you have heard or seen a lot of things related to STEM education in news, your children’s preschool or updates by the Ministry of Education. STEM in Malaysia, what is that? STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
STEM is where all these four disciplines are combined into one. Is it possible for the children to learn four subjects in one class? No! Students learn STEM through an integrated way by executing some projects, problem-solving and hands-on activities.
For our little ones, STEM is taught to them through exploration and fun learning experience. Even though STEM is a new thing for all of us (including for the teachers), it is very simple for us to conduct STEM anywhere and anytime.
Doing or learning STEM in Malaysia is essential, especially at a very young age because it will help the children to develop strong thinking skills, communication skills, and creativity. All of these are a part of the 21st-century skills. Wait up! Now we have more information. What are the 21st-century skills? These are the skills that have divided among learning skills, literacy skills, and life skills that are needed for the children to succeed in the future!
Why STEM for our little ones? Why not they just learn as to how you did before? This is because the world will be more complex when the children grow, and it is important for them to think like the innovators, scientists, or engineers in solving a broken toy or figuring out how to build a functional rocket made from macaroni. Thinking out of the box! Yes, that is another way to put it. STEM makes children think out of the box, providing one solution for multiple problems.
There are some STEM activities that you can do with your children. For example, playing with magic beads is also one of the STEM activities. This activity is so simple but it involves how the children try to construct something (engineering) using a bigger base to support the building (Science), estimating how tall the building will be with the number of beads (Mathematics) and arrangement of the colours (technology). I have listed some activities for you to conduct with your children at home to develop their interest to learn STEM. (Some of these activities are sets from the Spark – STEM Kit).
There are more fun and interesting activities, do your research, go online and find STEM activities. If you are worried you might not get the materials needed to do some activities, worry not! Some companies such as ALFA and Friends promote STEM in Malaysia by providing STEM Kit for children from 3 to 10 years old. But, sometimes, 12 years old children are still fascinated with some of our kits, too!
I hope with this handout, every parent out there that is still in doubt about STEM, manages to get enlightened. It is important for parents to understand the importance of STEM for the children so that not only the learning will take place in school, but also at home!
Do not worry that your children might get burdened with a non-stop study session. STEM is all about fun, exciting and magical learning sessions. Believe me, once you introduced STEM to your children (with hands-on activities or projects), learning time will be more exciting for them.
Who knows, they might demand everyday STEM session with you. Not to forget, STEM could be the way for you to make your children’s childhood become colourful, magical and full of adventures!