‘STEM’ Category

Elementary School Science Fair Project Guide

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Elementary School Science Fair Guide

Science fair projects are activities that are both fun and educational for students. They can pick topics that pique their curiosity, test their hypotheses by creating their own experiments and learn how to use the scientific method — a practice used by professional scientists around the world.

However, there are many steps to take to make this project a success, and we’re here to guide you through each one of them.

What Is a Science Fair?

A science fair refers to an event, often held in elementary schools, where students share experiments that they’ve conducted and the results that they have found. In some fairs, students will compete for prizes, while others are less competitive.

History

Science fairs in the U.S. can be traced back to the E.W. Scripps’ Science Service. The mission of this organization, which was established in 1921, was to increase interest and awareness of science by teaching scientific concepts in simpler, less technical terms. This organization was instrumental in organizing the Science Clubs of America, which in 1950 held a national science fair for the first time.

How to Make an Elementary School Science Fair Project

Follow these steps to get your scientific investigation underway:

  1. Pick a topic you love: You’re much more likely to enjoy this process — and do it well — if you pick a topic you’re passionate about. Don’t limit yourself to scientific topics, but rather think of your most intense interests and how they can be related to science. A science experiment can be created using practically any topic. For instance, if your passion is art, you could investigate the reaction of paint chemicals or how to make artificial colors. Choose a topic that is suitable for your age. While you can pick a topic that is challenging, you don’t want to choose a topic so difficult that you can’t complete it in time. 
  2. Think of a question: Once you’ve decided on your topic, think of a question that you can test. 
  3. Formulate a hypothesis: A hypothesis is an attempt to answer your question. 
  4. Think of a procedure: A procedure is an experiment that can be conducted to affirm or deny your hypothesis.
  5. Acquire materials: Once you know how you’ll conduct your experiment, start gathering materials you’ll need to do it. 
  6. Record results: By experimenting, you can see if your hypothesis was correct. 
  7. Arrive at a conclusion: Take a good look at the result you got, and determine whether your hypothesis was right or wrong. Also, think of ways you could further explore the question. As you’re doing your experiment, take notes so that afterward you can more easily share what you did and what you learned. 

How to prepare your poster

How to Prepare Your Poster

After you’ve finished your experiment and drawn your conclusions, the project is only halfway done — now you create a poster that provides a clear overview of what you did.

Creating Your Display Board

Elementary school students create posters with basically the same format as those presented by professional scientists at conferences. In general, display boards at science fairs are tri-folds, meaning that they’re folded on both sides so that they can easily stand. It’s not uncommon for boards to measure up to 14 inches deep and 3 feet wide. You can find these boards at office supply, craft and drug stores, or you can make your own with cardboard or poster board.

If you decide to make one yourself, it’s probably best to create three separate pieces then attach them with duct tape so that they can easily bend.

Organizing the Display Board

When it comes to organizing your poster, you’ve got several options. However, no matter you decide to do the layout, make sure that it includes these key sections:

  1. Title: When writing your title, you can simply go with your question or some other message that grabs your audience’s attention.
  2. Question: Clearly state your question. Also, provide some background why this topic interests you and how you thought up the question.
  3. Hypothesis: Tell your audience what you guessed the results would be before you conducted the tests.
  4. Procedures: Clearly explain the steps you took to test your question and why you decided on that procedure.
  5. Equipment and materials: Include a list of the things you needed for your test.
  6. Data and results: Describe what happened when you conducted your experiment. Use graphs, charts or other visuals to help convey your results.
  7. Conclusion: In your previous step, you just described the data. In this step, you want to make sense of them. Mention whether your hypothesis was correct or not, and explain why you think you got those results. Also, if you were to redo the tests, mention what you would do differently.
  8. References: Include the resources you used, whether they’re websites, books or people.
  9. Your Name: Also add your grade and the name of your teacher.

Example

Below is an example of a science fair project, including a detailed account of the procedure, results and conclusions.

1. Title

“Keeping Flowers Beautiful”

2. Question

“What Solution Can Keep Flowers Fresh for the Longest Period of Time?”

I chose this topic for several reasons. First of all, I love flowers, and I’m always trying to figure out better ways to keep them fresh for longer. Also, this issue is of great importance to many industries and consumers since they buy flowers for many occasions including weddings, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas.

Flower shops often provide customers with an additive to put in the water in their vase, but I wanted to question whether this additive is the most effective solution and whether another could work better. In my project, I tested homemade solutions, commercial preservatives and old wives tales.

3. Hypothesis

I believe that some home remedies will be just as effective as the preservative provided by florists. I hypothesize that the most effective solution will be lemon-lime soda because it contains sugar as well as several chemicals that I believe will inhibit the growth of bacteria that could damage the plant.

4. Procedures

Follow these steps to test your hypothesis:

  1. Thirty (30) daisies (bellis perennis) will be bought from the same store at the same time to make sure they are all equally fresh.
  2. Using a lab coat, gloves and goggles, certain solutions will be mixed together in 10 one-pint jars with an 8-ounce measuring cup, a tablespoon and a teaspoon. To avoid contamination, wash hands after making each mixture.
  3. The solutions used are tap water, distilled water, tap water with a teaspoon of salt, tap water with an aspirin pill, lemon-lime soda, tap water with 1 tablespoon of bleach, tap water with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar, tap water with 1 tablespoon sugar, tap water with 1 tablespoon of mouthwash and tap water with 1 tablespoon of commercial preservative Floralife.
  4. The stems of the flowers will then be submerged in lukewarm water and clipped at a 45-degree angle. Afterward, they will be put into the solutions. Three specimens will be placed in each of the 10 solutions.
  5. Every other day, the stems will be cut again and put in fresh solutions. These are considered good florist practices.
  6. The state of each flower will be examined once a day until either 14 days have passed or nothing remains in the vases. The number of specimens remaining in every solution will also be documented every day, as will their color and droopiness.
  7. Once their state has been recorded, specimens that are wilting, drooping or browning at the edges will be removed so that the bacteria won’t harm the other specimens in the container.
  8. A chart that shows how long each specimen stayed fresh will be made, accompanied by photos of the changes.

5. Equipment and Materials

Here’s what you’ll need for this experiment:

  1. Ten 1-pint jars to contain the flowers in the solutions
  2. A teaspoon measure
  3. A tablespoon measure
  4. An 8-oz. cup measure
  5. A pair of gloves
  6. A protective lab coat
  7. Tap water
  8. Distilled water
  9. 30 cut daisies (bellis perennis)
  10. A 1/2 cup of cider vinegar
  11. 12 cans of lemon-lime soda
  12. A 1/2 cup of sugar
  13. A 1/2 cup of Floralife
  14. A 1/2 cup of bleach
  15. A 1/2 cup of mouthwash
  16. Aspirin

6. Data and Results

  1. In the tap water, mouthwash and aspirin solutions, the flowers stayed fresh for seven full days. Every other homemade solution that I used in my project caused the flowers to wilt faster.
  2. By 14 days, the freshest specimens were the ones in the sugar water. One of the flowers in the lemon-lime soda solution browned in the middle, as did all of the Floralife specimens.
  3. By 21 days, the specimens in the sugar water still had not browned, although they had significantly wilted. The specimens in the soda had wilted. The Florarlife specimens still had the brown color, but no wilting of the petals occurred.

7. Conclusion

My hypothesis that the lemon-lime soda would be most effective was incorrect. The specimens in the soda, the floral additive and sugar water solutions all remained at Stage 1 for seven days and fresh enough for display for a full 21 days.

Although Floralife research suggests that it is more effective than any alternative, my results showed that both lemon-lime soda and sugar water can help keep flowers fresh for the longest time. This suggests that florists and consumers could save by using sugar water instead of the more costly floral preservatives.

Science Fair Project Ideas

If you’re having trouble coming up with a topic that interests you, below are some science fair ideas for inspiration:

  • Soaking pennies: A long-time favorite of elementary school students, dirty pennies are collected in this experiment and soaked in a variety of acidic liquids such as lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar and salsa. This experiment is best for kindergartners or first graders.
  • Creating circuits: Students interested in technology can make simple circuits using everyday objects. This is also most suitable for kindergartners or first graders.
  • Rainbow rubber eggs: This fun experiment involves submerging eggs in vinegar, adding a few drops of food coloring and waiting a few days to see some cool results.
  • Teleidoscopes: These objects are like kaleidoscopes but do not have an end, allowing you to view anything you want. Looking through one of these is a fantastic experience. This project is most appropriate for kids between second and fourth grade.
  • Density tower: This experiment involves layering liquids of different densities on top of one another without having them mix together.
  • Growing salt crystals: Salt crystals can be grown overnight in the fridge.

General science fair tips

General Tips

In addition to the necessary steps mentioned above, we’d also like to share some general tips to boost the quality of your presentation.

  • Document everything: Through the entire process, record all your activities, thoughts and findings in a journal. Some science fairs actually request that you include your notebook as part of your presentation. For professional scientists, keeping a detailed log of their experiments is critical.
  • Write on separate pieces of paper: It’s much easier to write all titles and other text on pieces of paper and then glue them to your board than to write directly on the board. You can also type them out with a computer and use attention-grabbing colors and fonts — just make sure that the font and font size are easy to read from a few feet away.
  • Take photos: One of the easiest ways to help explain the process is with pictures, so remember to keep a camera nearby and take photos throughout the experiment. Then, print out your best photos and include them on your board — breaking up the text with pictures will make your project easier to digest. 
  • Make it colorful: If your teachers allow it, consider buying a colorful board. Other ways to add color include printing out your titles and text on colored construction paper, scrapbook paper or cardstock. You can also make your project pop with stickers, cut-out letters or colored paper.
  • Lay everything out before pasting: Before grabbing the glue, first lay everything out that you want to include on your board. The hypothesis, procedures and materials should be on the right, the data and results should be in the center, and the conclusion, personal information and resources should go on the right. Depending on how much you include for each section, you may need to adjust this layout. Once you’re happy with the placement of everything, paste it to the board.
  • Use glue dots or glue sticks: These two types of glue are the easiest to use. You can use regular glue as well, but it sometimes causes wrinkles in the paper and can be difficult to change the position of things after the glue has dried.
  • Limit parental involvement: Parents should give their children the opportunity to do as much of the work as they can for their age. Although requirements vary from school to school, parents are usually allowed to type up the notes their children have made — just make sure that your child is telling you what to write. Your child should be able to explain every step of the process to the panel of judges. It’s a good idea to have your kids practice explaining what they did to you or other members of your family.

How Does the Judging Work?

Some science fair projects are assessed by a panel of judges and the winners may advance to regional or state levels. At elementary school science fairs, however, it’s less common to award placements. Instead, judges may point out the best parts of each project, award ribbons and leave commentary. At the elementary level, the objective is usually to just encourage students to continue participating in these events.

Check out Science Explorers science programs

Check out Our Science Programs

If you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland, and your child is between the ages of 4 and 11, explore the fun and educational science programs offered by Science Explorers. Our programs, which include summer camps and after-school science clubs, are designed to get kids excited about science and create lasting memories in the process.

 

Getting Kids Interested in STEM

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

What’s your child’s favorite subject in school? The common answer is recess or PE, but science, math and other STEM-related subjects aren’t often cited as favorites. Changing how kids feel about STEM can make a world of difference as they move through elementary school and into middle school, high school and college. Learn how to get your kids into science to reap the benefits down the road.

What Is STEM?

Before we dive too far into how to get kids interest in STEM, it’s important to define what it is. STEM is a buzzword that gets tossed around a lot, but some parents and kids may not fully understand what it means.

STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Your child likely has math and science class. They may even have an occasional technology class at the elementary level. But STEM isn’t necessarily one specific subject, degree or education program. General STEM concepts are often included in the elementary curriculum, although technology and engineering are often severely lacking in the regular school day.

While STEM can be taught as specific coursework, the concepts surround us in everyday life. We use math at the grocery store. We use engineering concepts to rig up a solution to a problem with a shelf or the home’s exterior. Science comes into play when cooking, evaluating the weather or figuring out how to remove ice from the front steps. Most of us can’t go through a single day without encountering science in some form or another.

Reasons to Get Kids Interested in STEM Early

It’s never too late to help your child discover a love for STEM, but it’s much easier to encourage your young child to embrace the concepts than it is to convince older kids that the subjects aren’t as boring or difficult as they think. Making STEM interesting for kids at a young age can help with success later in life.

Consider these reasons to inspire your little learner in these subject areas:

  • Natural Curiosity: Little kids are naturally inquisitive. Think of the millions of questions you hear from your child. Why is the sky blue? Why did that sink? Can people live on the moon? Who invented cheese? Hearing those questions gets a little old, but they’re a sign of the innate curiosity that defines childhood. By making STEM education for children fun and exciting, you capitalize on those natural scientist tendencies before they fizzle.
  • Willingness: Young kids are often excited about learning, especially if that learning is disguised as fun, engaging activities that mimic play. When you start with STEM education at a young age, you don’t have to fight your child to try an experiment or convince her why she should enjoy learning about it.
  • Positive Attitude: If kids learn to appreciate STEM at an early age, they develop positive attitudes going forward. This positive outlook can help your child stick with the subjects even as they get challenging. Kids often say they hate science or they’re bad at math. By changing the attitude toward the subject matter, you can help your child overcome that in the later years.
  • Foundational Skills for Success: Kids need STEM skills to succeed not only in their schoolwork but also in life. The concepts are all around us, so the more exposure your child has to STEM, the more prepared they’ll be when they encounter the concepts in real life. Early STEM education builds a strong foundation for the future, even if your child doesn’t choose a STEM career path.
  • Problem Solving: STEM concepts rely heavily on problem solving. Those problem-solving skills your child gains can be applied in any area of life, even if it isn’t STEM-related. By making these topics fun and encouraging that problem-solving mentality, you help your child reframe challenging situations into problems they can figure out how to solve.
  • Potential Career Path: Elementary school is a long way from college, but teaching STEM at an early age plants the seeds for pursuing a career in a related field when your child graduates.

Involve Your Child in Everyday STEM Activities

You might not think about the different ways you implement STEM in your daily life, but there are examples all around. How often do you involve your kids in those real-world uses? Instead of handling all of “grown-up” work yourself, let your kids help out to see how the things they learn in school apply to the real world.

Get your kids involved with these tasks:

  • Cooking and baking
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Shopping
  • Balancing your checkbook or playing bank with fake money and a fake checkbook
  • Growing a garden
  • Operating appliances at home
  • Fixing toys or other items
  • Using education apps on smartphones
  • Using a computer

Explore Museums

Load up the kids, and head to any local museum to inspire fun learning about STEM. Museums are full of exhibits about these subjects past and present. You don’t have to limit yourself to science museums – although they’re an obvious place to start. History museums show examples of early engineering and science in action. Aquariums and zoos let kids see natural animal behavior right in front of them.

Make the most of your time at the museum with these tips:

  • Research the exhibits at the museum before you go. Get your kids talking and thinking about the topics before your trip.
  • Look for interactive exhibits, and let your kids explore them as long as they want.
  • Encourage kids to read the signs and display information to understand what’s going on in the exhibit.
  • Ask kids questions about the display. Encourage them to make hypotheses on different things they see.
  • Write down questions they have or topics they want to explore more. When you get home, research those topics to extend learning.
  • Let your kids lead the way and focus on things that interest them.
  • Relate the things you see at the museum to previous experiences your kids have had. Building those connections strengthens understanding and helps them see how things are related.
  • Give your child a journal or field book where they can write down interesting facts or things they want to remember.
  • Take photos, so your child remembers the things you see.

Do Experiments

Turn your kitchen into a science lab, so your kids can put their STEM skills to good use. You might be surprised how many items you already have that work perfectly for experimenting. Kids are great at coming up with their own experiments simply by testing out different items and trying different things with them.

If you need some simple science projects to get you started, try these:

  • Exploding Soap: Microwave a bar of Ivory soap. Watch as it grows into a fluffy snow-like pile.
  • Milky Colors: Pour whole milk into a shallow pan. Drop food coloring on the milk. Squirt dish soap into the milk. The dish soap affects the fat in the milk and makes the color spread.
  • Colored Flowers: Put white flowers in water colored with food dye, and watch the petals change colors.
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Art: Tint white vinegar with food dye. Sprinkle baking soda on watercolor paper. Use droppers to squirt the colored vinegar onto the baking soda, which fizzes as it dissolves, leaving behind the color on the paper.
  • Dancing Raisins: Pour clear soda into a clear cup. Drop raisins in the soda, and watch them “dance” as the bubbles move them up and down.
  • Egg Drop: Design a protective container for an egg. Drop it from different heights to see if it cracks. Test different containers to find the designs that work the best.
  • Oobleck: Mix cornstarch and water to make this non-Newtonian substance. When you squeeze it, the oobleck becomes a solid. When you release your grip, it flows like a liquid.
  • Senses: Do a blindfolded taste test or smell test to test the senses.
  • Rube Goldberg Machine: Challenge your kids to create a Rube Goldberg machine, which is essentially a chain reaction. A ball might roll and knock down a row of dominoes. The last domino hits something else to cause another action to happen. See how many components they can add.
  • Bake or Cook: One of the easiest experiments you do every day is cook. Plan a specific baking or cooking activity, so your child can test out the science of cooking. Baking bread is a good option, but any cooking activity works.

Go Exploring

There’s nothing like an adventure to pique your child’s curiosity. Head outdoors to find examples of STEM all around. A walk around your neighborhood is a great way to get started whenever you have a few spare minutes. Slow down more than normal, and point out things you notice, like flowers blooming in the summer or seeds on a plant. In winter, watch icicles melt or play in the snow to learn more about its properties.

You can also explore beyond your own little corner of the world. Head to a local park, nature area or hiking trail to find an ideal spot to explore. Bring back a few nature items to investigate more when you get home. Leaves, rocks, seeds, flowers, acorns and pinecones work well.

Solve a Problem

What problems do you around your home? Perhaps you have a squeaky door or a downspout that always floods your flower garden. What problems plague your neighborhood? Maybe the visibility at a busy intersection is poor, or there is no nearby recycling facility. Help your kids brainstorm some ideas in your area.

Then, encourage them to come up with solutions to improve those situations. If your downspout is the problem, the kids might look to see if there’s a clog or a pinched area in the downspout. They might try repositioning the downspout. Replacing it with a rain barrel might be a suitable solution. This idea is more about engaging kids in problem-solving techniques than fixing the actual problem, although you may be surprised how many home improvement projects your kids handle for you.

Build Together

Building is a favorite activity of young kids. That simple play activity uses STEM principles to make it just as educational as it is fun. Gather several different building supplies to make the activity interesting. Some options include LEGOS, wooden blocks, magnetic cubes and empty boxes.

You can also make your own building materials. Cut pool noodles into small sections to make inexpensive blocks. Build structures with toothpicks and marshmallows. Cut squares of cardboard with notches along each edge. Kids can build by sliding the notches into one another.

Some kids like to follow the directions on things like LEGO sets. Encourage them to try building their own creations. Create marble mazes by attaching LEGO pieces onto a large flat piece, or build LEGO cars and test them on a ramp. This encourages creative thinking and problem solving. It can also help kids be a little more flexible in their thinking and be better at seeing things in different ways with different uses.

Buy STEM-Related Gear

Instead of buying your kids more toys that will quickly grow boring, stock them up with STEM-related toys and gear. Those tools help them apply their STEM skills and become even more inquisitive. Gather several items, and put them in a large container, so you can pull them out easily when you feel like exploring.

Consider these options:

  • Telescope
  • Microscope
  • Magnifying glass
  • Building kits
  • Tangrams
  • 3D puzzles
  • Science experiment kits
  • Science experiment books
  • Shovel
  • Science board games
  • Marble maze
  • Gears
  • Beakers
  • Eyedroppers
  • Terrarium
  • Magnets (for older kids)
  • Circuits
  • Test tubes
  • Scale
  • Weights

Talk About It

Bring STEM into the conversation daily whether directly or indirectly. The more you talk about the concepts, the more natural and comfortable they become to your kids. These conversations are also a great way to help kids realize just how important STEM is to everyday life. Point out examples you see in daily life. Ask about the things your kids are learning in school.

Change Your Outlook

How do you feel about STEM topics? Do you love or hate science? Do you feel like math is difficult? Do you feel like you know nothing about engineering and always mess up with technology? Your personal beliefs on the subject could affect your child’s thinking. Parents sometimes unintentionally project negative feelings about STEM subjects on their kids.

If your child has a negative attitude toward STEM education, help develop healthier attitudes toward the subjects. Kids often either love or hate a subject – or at least they think they do. When you show them fun ways to learn those subjects, they realize it’s not necessarily the subject matter that they dislike.

You can also help by not forcing kids into STEM learning. Instead, extend the option with hands-on activities that they enjoy. They may not even realize they’re engaging in an engineering activity or a science experiment. After the fact, help kids make that connection.

When it comes to actual schoolwork related to STEM subjects, avoid putting too much pressure on your child. Instead of focusing on the grades your child gets in math or science, emphasize the process of learning, problem solving and exploring. Encourage your child to stick with the work even when it seems challenging. Mastering those difficult concepts becomes a little victory that rewards the effort.

Sign Up for Science Clubs and Camps

Teachers are often limited in the STEM concepts they cover and the methods they use to teach them. Kids may also have a negative attitude toward learning the subjects in the regular classroom. Supplement the learning in the classroom, no matter how your child feels about it, with science clubs and summer camps.

The primary advantage of these types of programs is the ability to make the activities fun and hands-on. Clubs and summer camps keep kids engaged and inspire them to learn through inquiry-based activities that put the kids in charge of learning. Kids quickly learn that science can be interesting.

Science Explorers provides science summer camps and after school clubs designed for ages 4 to 11. Our interactive lessons align with National Science Education Standards, so kids can apply what they learn in the regular classroom. Learn more about our after-school science clubs to help your child get excited about STEM. Our week-long summer camps keep the STEM fun rolling all summer.

 

Moving From STEM to STEAM

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Infographic source: http://musicedmasters.kent.edu/stem-to-steam/

You are no doubt familiar with the acronym STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM has become a major focus for educators and analysts, who see jobs in this sector booming over the next few years. Employers clamor for students with degrees in these areas, coinciding with a big increase in the percentage of jobs that require a postsecondary degree in the United States.

But while there’s no doubting the importance of STEM to our culture and our future, the connection between these study areas and student interest has come into question. As the infographic below shows, nearly two-thirds of those who enter college planning to study a STEM subject change their minds during their education and switch their focus. That’s raising concerns such as:

  • Do they find STEM too limiting?
  • Do they want a more abstract dimension to their learning?
  • Do they misunderstand the nature of STEM subjects?
  • Do they discover the classes are too difficult or too easy?

While clearly STEM remains an area of great interest to many students, it’s in the best interest of educators to attract the broadest possible swath of people to this area. That has led to a new movement within STEM to expand the definition of the term to include art and design. Welcome to the era of STEAM, which could help redefine the big-picture limitations of STEM.

The History of STEM: How It Evolved

The study of STEM subjects goes back centuries, of course, but arguably the space race of the 1950s and 1960s pushed the sciences to the front of our national interest. Engineers, scientists and mathematicians helped send the first objects into space, followed by the first people. By the 1970s and ‘80s, the country had become a global leader in science education, and technology was becoming a daily part of our lives through the proliferation of computers and the birth of the consumer internet.

The STEM acronym popped up in the 1990s, helping educators to put a broad focus on these areas as other countries caught up to the U.S. in education and innovation. By the 2000s, the United States risked falling behind the rest of the world in these areas. STEM projects focused on outreach to underserved groups, such as women and minorities, encouraging them to enter these fields of study. At the same time, federal programs began prioritizing the education of more teachers to help students in these subjects.

The Future of STEM: Where It’s Headed

In the past, STEM was taught largely in a silo. Kids with natural ability in the sciences made up most STEM students, and there wasn’t a lot of cross-discipline pollination.

Today, however, we understand the benefits of learning outside of silos, as the infographic shows. Studies have found great benefits to studying the arts, which appears to correlate to higher academic achievement. In fact, students involved in the arts or music tend to have:

  • Higher SAT scores
  • More consistent school attendance
  • Greater recognition for academics

What lessons can we draw from this? It suggests students benefit from combining the study of arts and science, rather than focusing on one to the exclusion of the other. Science and art require different methods of thinking and different approaches, and when they are combined, they can improve students’ problem-solving skills and give them more confidence.

The Impact of Arts and Design: How STEAM Can Help

This leads us back to the earlier statistic about the number of kids who abandon their STEM studies. These students may have felt limited by the skills they learned in STEM classes. They may not have felt confident in their abilities to learn differently or take multi-pronged approaches to a problem.

By broadening STEM to include arts and design, students can gain the tools they need to excel in the world of science and technology. There’s little sense in limiting our future engineers, scientists and computer developers. By fostering their interest in music or art, we broaden their horizons. We also let kids interested in art and design know that there’s a place for them in innovation as well.

Artists and designers help make technology more accessible. For example, Apple’s mobile products never would have been as successful if Steve Jobs hadn’t insisted on finding the perfect packaging and design for the products, which gave them aesthetic appeal. Even the most brilliant product won’t get far if it’s presented in an ugly, clunky manner.

From STEM to STEAM

To give STEAM the impact it deserves, educators and students will need to embrace it. That may take time. Many arts educators feel as though their programs are given short shrift at the secondary school level, and some in the STEM field mistakenly dismiss art and design as “soft” sciences. They’re not. They are the future of education, and it will be exciting to see how they become integrated into traditional STEM in the future.

At Science Explorers we work to introduce students ages 4-11 to STEM/STEAM concepts by getting them excited to learn about science. Learn more about our STEM summer camps and STEM after school clubs. We proudly offer our programs to children across PA, NJ, MD and DE.