Keeping Kids Engaged with STEM in the age of COVID
Now that we have survived the last quarter of the school year being turned upside down by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many teachers, parents and students are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Overwhelmingly the consensus is distant learning is all around more challenging than traditional face-to-face learning. Although we have gotten through the trials and tribulations of being thrust into nationwide distant learning - we have a new challenge facing us: SUMMER!
As the nation continues to work through the process of resuming life and re-opening businesses, most of the traditional summer activities, programs and schools that many children would normally be involved in, are cancelled or operating in a limited capacity. How can parents ensure that their children's summer doesn't become hours of Fortnite, TikTok, and YouTube?
One way to keep children engaged is to leverage the excellent array of STEM materials that are widely available across all age groups. STEM includes the topics of science, technology, engineering, and math. As 21st century learners all children at all age groups should have ongoing exposure to STEM education, because many are beginning to see STEM to be as important for students as literacy skills.
Blue Studios IO
One great company that will keep all of your kids engaged regardless of age is Blue Studios (https://www.bluestudios.io/). Blue Studios offers hundreds of on demand and live STEM classes taught by always lively and fun instructors. Their classes range from coding, physics, engineering design, music and audio production, graphic design, biology and more. To help bring the learning home Blue Studios has also recently launched STEM kits which you can order from their website.
If you are looking for your child to dive deeper into coding, technology, and game development then you will want to check out The Unlock Academy (https://www.unlock.academy/). Antione Digital leads students through beginner to advance course on everything from game development, Python, and Java Script. One of the best things about The Unlock Academy is their community focus through their work in the tech space.
For the youngest learners who may not quite be ready for Python and Java script yet, parents can look to Puzzle Huddle (https://puzzlehuddle.com/). Puzzle Huddle is a company that sells puzzles that feature African American children because children need to see themselves reflected in the products they use. The STEM engagement comes in because many of the puzzles show African Americans as doctors, scientists, and astronauts. The STEM learning is also embedded in the activity itself. Puzzle play has been shown to develop math skills by honing children's problem solving and logical reasoning. This activity also helps kids with the mental transformation and rotation of shapes, all prerequisite skills for doing well in a number of STEM related subjects.
Live STEM Cartoon Show
For a lot of fun and learning for all, tune-in to Justin Shaifer and his Live STEM Cartoon Show (https://www.livecartoonshow.com/). Here the award winning STEM advocate and speaker takes kids on an engaging animated experience on various STEM topics along with an entertaining cast of characters.
Of course no summer would be complete without a summer reading list. A few STEM based books to add to your child's reading list this summer include the Black Inventors Science Workbook by Njeri Olatunji (Amazon). This is an interactive resource that will inform your child about great Black inventors but also includes learning activities around the science principles covered in the book.
Another book aimed at younger readers is What Can I Be - STEM Careers from A to Z by Tiffani Teachy (Amazon). As the title indicates young readers, will get an alphabet worth of STEM careers to explore and think about possibly becoming one day. For the older children who are ready for chapter books then check out author Justin Scott Parr's Sage Carrington Eighth Grade Science Slueth (Amazon). In this selection the character Sage Carrington gets caught in an adventure during her summer break that requires her to use her smarts and determination.
As we all grapple with the changes foisted upon us by the current pandemic let's use all the amazing resources at our disposal to engage, enrich, and educate our children during this very unconventional time.
I hope you remember me from Beers!
I am so proud and excited about your new endeavor! I would love to buy a copy of your book!! I am working in a STEM school in DC and always look to share new resources with our team.
Best of luck to you!