STEM – Part 2

Developing critical thinking skills in young children is essential in helping them navigate a world that is more complicated than any prior generation has had to face.  Many people think these thinking skills are mainly developed in school and they are, but much of a child’s time is spent outside the school environment.  This is where libraries, including ours, have been able to fill the need of providing children with activities where thinking and creativity are combined to enhance skills that will serve them a lifetime.

As has been mentioned in a prior post, children learn best by doing.  This is where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) comes in, these activities are hands on so that a child is thinking while doing, they are physically and mentally involved and this combination makes for a much more productive learning experience.  Our library’s STEM kits are all hands on and while they can sometimes be challenging they are also fun.  And if an older sibling or parent or caregiver take a look at our kits they may decide to have a crack at working on them themselves.

The makers of STEM kits have become creative in the variety of ideas they have brought to creating their kits.  Some of our kits follow stories that are fairy tales like, “The three billy goats gruff,” or fables like, “The three little pigs.”  The kits take a central problem from the story and have kids use their problem-solving skills to create a happy ending for the story’s main characters.  As the summary on our web site says for “The three little pigs,” Kids engineer a happy fairy tale ending-as they design a house that can’t be blown down! Our kit helps children discover the STEM in one of their favorite fairy tales and naturally inspires them to explore a challenging situation until they find a solution! Kit includes a STEM-focused story card, 18 foam blocks, 35 panels in 2 sizes, 3 pigs, a wolf, plus student & teacher cards with lesson plans & full support. Blocks are 1 1/2″.Develops skills in using the design process; cause and effect; experimenting with structural stability, size and balance.

As you can see this kit has a lot of parts.  Some of our kits have more, some less.  We do not want to let that fact scare you away from checking out our STEM kits but please be aware these kits are more than just toys and they need to be taken care of so that the experience is the same for each family that checks them out. 

The summary also brings out an important part of our STEM kits.  Kids learn problem solving skills by thinking creatively and by facing problems where the answers do not follow a straight line but can be found by thinking one step at a time.  Trial and error is part of the process and if something doesn’t work then it is time to rethink the answer and try something new.  It is the thinking process that is the key part of these kits and the skills they learn will last them a lifetime.


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