Sparking Curiosity with STEAM Activities for Young Learners

Steam Thumb

What does STEAM mean?  

It means a great deal of fun, play, experimenting, creating, taking risks and sharing ideas. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math---all essential skill areas for our children in their future.  It is also about teaching children to integrate their knowledge across these disciplines and apply learned skills to new experiences. Introducing STEAM skills and activities early encourages young minds and taps into their natural curiosity.  

Why is STEAM important for young children?

The United States Department of Labor has noted that STEM (STEAM) career opportunities are growing rapidly: civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, information sciences and systems, accounting, and economics and finance. STEAM will no doubt be a part of our children’s futures, and it is never too early to begin to develop the skills needed for these jobs and interests. Parents, educators and caregivers can encourage curiosity in young learners each day.

How can I make STEAM learning fun?

Remember the days of making something for the science fair, creating art projects as gifts for the holidays, building forts outdoors or in your living room, carving your first pumpkin and more?  While you were busy playing you were developing these essentials STEAM skills. There is a renewed focus on the power of these activities to engage children, spark creativity and inspire exploration. Here are some ideas to get you started. Each one focuses on one area but integrates some of the other STEAM skills.

Try an experiment with sand and water or make a safe and simple volcano with a bottle of vinegar and a bit of baking soda; 
Technology Try an Internet search for a favorite song and share that song with a grandparent or friends, or learn to play a Curious World app;
Engineering Get out recycled materials, blocks, sand, rocks, water and more. See what you can create together;
Arts  Make the Earth and other planets by painting Styrofoam balls or create magical letters with a white crayon on paper and paint over them with watercolors…see the letters appear;
Take a walk outside and talk about what you see. Count the yellow leaves, big trees and red flowers in the yard. Sort the leaves by size.

Children are natural STEAM learners, and parents and teachers can maximize learning experiences by offering encouragement, providing opportunities for investigation, asking lots of WHAT questions and supporting children’s own initiatives. So dive into STEAM with the activities above – they may be a bit messy, but I guarantee you’ll have fun!

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