Fall in Love with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
(Family Features) With fall in full swing and seasonal festivities quickly approaching, it’s easy for kids to lose focus on their studies with all of the fun distractions the holidays bring. Rather than skipping out on fall and winter traditions, integrate educational lessons within them to give your family the best of both worlds.
Use the changing seasons as an opportunity to introduce your kids to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. There are so many seasonal activities you can do to spark an interest in learning by engaging in fascinating experiments and activities outside of the classroom. Here are a few examples:
Study the leaves before jumping in piles of them. You can learn a lot about science from simply studying leaves and teaching your kids about the chemical processes that take place inside a tree as the season transitions, creating beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. Create a photo log of the trees in your neighborhood by taking photos of the same part of the tree throughout the season. If you live in an area that doesn’t experience fall weather, use this as an opportunity to teach kids about leaves changing in other parts of the world and climate variations across regions.
Cook something up in the kitchen. Believe it or not, STEM education can easily be incorporated into cooking and with plenty of food to prepare this time of year, it’s the perfect time to brush up on your skills in the kitchen. When you’re busy cooking, take some time to help your children learn about the science behind different components of food, as well as how they can affect your digestion and why. You can also hone their math skills by discussing different units of measurement as you measure out ingredients for your family’s favorite pie recipe.
Learn about the weather changes. Examining the seasonal transition from fall to winter is an excellent way to engage children in learning about science and teach them about factors that affect the weather, why it varies from season to season and what other aspects of the environment are affected as a result.
Inspire innovation during long car rides. When your family packs into the car for holiday visits and road trips, challenge bored children in the backseat to look around and think about the many issues present in the world each day, such as traffic congestion, energy storage, solar power and other environmental concerns. Next, brainstorm ways to solve these problems if they had the resources to do so.
Explore a science competition. Now that you’ve inspired your kids to think about science all season long, talk to them about participating in a program, such as ExploraVision, a national science competition sponsored by Toshiba and administered by the National Science Teachers Association. ExploraVision challenges students in kindergarten through 12th grade to create new ideas for technological innovations inspired by real world issues. Participants work on their projects throughout the holidays, supplementing their science education, while also developing problem-solving, analytical and collaboration skills. To learn more about the competition, check out one of the Web seminars hosted by an ExploraVision Teacher Ambassador and share your learnings with your child's teacher to encourage him or her to get involved.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images