Friday, April 6, 2012

Preschool S.T.E.M.

People use S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts every day of their lives. Babies practice S.T.E.M concepts, whether they know it or not. When toddlers sit in a high chair and drop messy spoons, they are exploring gravity. Like all good scientists, they repeat the experiment over and over again, to see the results.

It is natural for four-to-six-year-olds to experiment in their daily lives. When too many ice cubes are placed in a glass of soda, the result is a messy discovery, demonstrating displacement. When magnets are used to display art on the refrigerator, children are introduced to magnetic principles. To encourage science exploration, ask open-ended questions. “What do you think will happen if…” is a very important question to ask your children. An open-ended question requires no right or wrong answer, but simply asks for a suggestion. “What do you think will happen if you put the magnets together?” “What do you think will happen if you put the big block on top and the small block on the bottom?” These questions spur self-initiated experiments and discovery.

Children experience centripetal force in many ways.
S.T.E.M. concepts for children have been at the core of DuPage Children’s Museum exhibits and programs since we started in 1987. Our first exhibit, Ramps and Rollers, is still one of the most popular areas in the Museum to play and learn. S.T.E.M. has always been present in the programs that we take out to local schools. In addition, we have added a S.T.E.M. series of classes at the Museum for children ages four to six. These popular classes invite science-loving children and their supportive grown-ups to explore their way through simple machines, centripetal force, construction engineering and other elements of basic physics. Look for details about the specific classes in future blogs.

Children use levers for fun and business
This week's post is written by Marcia Z. MacRae, Interdisciplinary Specialist for DuPage Children's Museum.

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