Advances in technology are making STEM topics in general more and more important to our children’s futures, but can often be seen as “boring” by kids as well as parents. As a National Geographic Kids Insider, it’s great to receive free review products and ideas that help get my kids interested in science, they are an excellent resource.
The truth is that science and math related topics are super exciting if approached the right way. They’ve just gotten a bad reputation thanks to old ways of teaching. If you want your kids to be interested in science, technology, engineering, and math, you’ve got to make them fun.
Steer them toward valuable online resources and apps. I like National Geographic Kids, which is both fun and educational. It has its own games section and kids can earn badges for different activities. The interactive site makes them want to learn and do more. National Geographic Kids has something for kids of all ages and abilities to be interested in, including a section for homework help.
Find fun and interesting books for them. There are so many. If you need ideas, you can often find some suggested titles on your school district’s website. If not, ask a public librarian for recommendations. Another way to find fun books about science is to ask in an online forum. A simple question posted on Facebook or Twitter to parents of kids the same ages will bring you lots of answers. You might also ask about STEM-related TV shows and movies.
Some of our favorite National Geographic Kids books are “Weird But True!,” “How Things Work,” and the new “Ultimate Oceanpedia.” All are highly visual, interesting references chock full of exciting facts and activities that will engage your kids and fuel their interest in science.
Encourage your kids to join you in the kitchen. Measurements are always so much more fun to learn while baking cookies! Cooking is chemistry – kids will learn what happens when you combine different ingredients and the result of heating them up. For example, the process of cake turning from a batter to a solid is a science lesson by itself. Your kids will also really enjoy the bonding time with you. Encourage them to ask questions, and don’t be afraid you won’t know the answers. This is the age of the internet. You can search for them together!
Find simple, safe, age appropriate experiments to do at home. Remember the vinegar volcano you did as a kid? How about Mentos and Coke? There are also several experiments that can be done with shaving cream, water, and other things you have in your pantry. You don’t have to break out the chemistry set. There are literally thousands of ideas and experiments to try. A simple Google search will find them.
Incorporate educational games into family game night. We recently tried out Brain Games The Game, which is a family game with puzzles and brain teasers to keep those brains in great shape! With 192 cards and 40 game tiles, you compete with other players in fun tests of logic, vision, language skills, and physical coordination. Kids love competing with their families on the challenges and games based on National Geographic Channel’s hit TV show. We had a great time. I can’t wait to do it again!
Take nature walks. Encourage the kids to make observations about animals, bugs, and plants. You’d be surprised how much a child enjoys looking for “evidence” of different animals in the woods! Scavenger hunts, letter games, and guessing games about outdoor things are all activities that can promote interest. Why not start a rock collection (or find a pet rock?) Gardening is another way to get kids interested in nature – there’s nothing quite like eating fresh produce that you grew yourself!
Visit museums whenever possible. Subscribe to the newsletters of your local museums and stay on top of community events so you’re notified of special exhibits. I guarantee you’ll learn something too! Bonus: Visiting museums is a very inexpensive way to entertain bored kids on breaks from school.
Talk to them about how STEM topics influence their everyday lives. When you take your kids to the doctor, talk about how cool the human body is. When you drive to school, discuss the infrastructure of the roads on the way there. Children are naturally curious about the world around them. The more you engage that curiosity, the more they flourish.
STEM topics really can be just as fun as they are educational. They just need to be presented in the right way to encourage a lifetime of enjoyment and excitement. Thankfully we have learned better ways to teach our kids about science than through rote memorization of random facts with no obvious relevance to daily life. If it’s enjoyable to your child from the beginning, they’ll learn all those facts on their own. Can I promise they won’t have to memorize the periodic table in high school? No, but I’d say that at this point, we’re starting to take steps in the right direction!
How do you get your kids interested in STEM topics?