Summertime, Funtime… STEM Learning Time!
Written by: Chevin Stone M.Ed
Ahhh, the sweet, sweet indicators that summer will soon be here: robins and cardinals flitting about singing happily, the grass growing and trees budding. Bees buzzing and weather warming. Students lose focus and smile as they stare out the classroom windows. Teachers start counting the days.
It’s the annual ritual of the end of the school year. Yet, we don’t want the kids to lose interest in STEM! After a full year of learning new things, creating and innovating, how do we keep the momentum going? Here are a few ways to keep students engaged and loving STEM this summer:
Playing board games and card games
I know, video games are the thing, but how about learning a new card game or board game that will encourage critical thinking and math skills? Let your student be the score keeper during a game of gin rummy or have them be the banker during a rousing game of Monopoly. Nothing like the Game of Life to get them thinking about careers and handling their business in the world, right?
Any math teacher will tell you that there are a hundred ways to use sports to keep those math skills sharp. Keep the stats straight as you watch the game. Determine speed of a moving baseball and how the bat connects will determine where the ball will go. Angles and momentum on the basketball court always make for geometry fun. The Olympics this summer will also provide dozens of ways to “see the math” in the sports we play.
Plant a garden
Even if that garden is in a bunch of recycled plastic jugs, kids can learn about how seeds grow and the different stages of growth in plants. Have them keep track of how much water and sunlight the plants receive and find a quick lesson on photosynthesis to study. Practice observational skills and if growing food, when the crop is ready for harvest, learn how to either store for the winter, or use the vegetables or fruit in a recipe.
Cooking or baking
Since there will be veggies and/or fruit lying around, why not cook? Practice math skills while measuring out the ingredients for a recipe or consider the chemistry of cooking! One of my favorite shows was Good Eats, where Alton Brown explained the chemistry of cooking AND dropped a little history on the fine art of cooking and different recipes too!
Play Travel Games
Hitting the road this summer? Math, geography, and science can go with you! Have younger children count the number of cars you pass on the highway. Have older children compare gas prices and determine how much gas one gets for the price (don’t cheat and check the pump!).
When I was a kid, I was the navigator, opening up the map and finding the best route to our destination. Children can now use Google Maps or WAZE to do the same thing! Put in the starting point and the destination, and have them decide which is the best route based on traffic, construction, distance and those gas prices! Also, consider watching the weather forecast with weather.com or weather underground!
Visit the Zoo
What’s summer without a trip to the zoo? Before your trip, have children consider the different types of animals they know and will probably see. Then suggest what new type of animals they might encounter. Take pictures and get information about their favorite animals and have them create a digital scrapbook of what they’ve learned.
How about some engineering! You don’t have to buy a kit to build a robot! There are dozens of different tutorials on Youtube you can choose from to have your children create their own robots. Check out this tutorial of a mini robot bug.
In addition to creating your own robots, what about creating other things? Makered provides resources and advice on designing and building your own creations at home!
Build an App
Other STEM Activities
There is so much more to do this summer to keep your children’s science, math, engineering and technology skills from sliding during the summer. Begin planning your summer activities today and enjoy the fun!