‘STEM is the future,’ ‘mastery of STEM makes learning complete,’ ‘focus on STEM, others will follow’ - you get to hear this a lot these days. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM, has seeped into almost every conversation around education. This includes home education. Why is it so? What key does STEM hold in home education?
More than the enormous career opportunities that these subjects open up, it’s their impact on a child’s brain that stands out. These subjects are not new. They have been taught in school for decades. The differentiating factor with STEM is that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics integrate and form a holistic learning environment. Now, incorporating them in homeschooled classrooms is of prime importance. And it’s because of the following reasons:
- The learnings of students will be practical and application-oriented.
- The homeschoolers will flourish in the rapidly changing job market.
- Students learn to question assumptions and do their research.
- Enhance creative thinking, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail.
- According to a report by SHRM, there will be around 3.5 million STEM jobs available by 2025.
Having established STEM as an integral part of homeschooling, next comes the implementation part. Naturally, it will vary based on the grade of the student. Let’s explore further and get a general sense of integrating STEM for elementary school, middle school, and high school.
"STEM education is very important to mankind just like the water we drink and the air we breathe in, we need it to produce more critical thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, and the world best economy drivers."
STEM Projects for Elementary Students
STEM is for high school students is an old concept. You can integrate these subjects in the learning for 5-year-olds too. There are several curriculums you can follow for getting your young genius hooked to math and science from a very early age. Cuemath works in a similar direction, focusing on real-life problem solving and understanding math as logic. If you want to follow a more traditional approach, the way to go about it would be hands-on projects and little challenges in your elementary homeschooling program. Have a look at some of the ideas you can give a shot.
- Dish out discovery jars. Let the child write down their questions about math and science on little pieces of paper and put them in that jar. You can then research those questions and combine them with their lessons.
- Plan for field trips that help students see what goes on behind the scenes at careers related to STEM, such as research labs, manufacturing units, etc.
STEM Projects for Middle School Students
In middle school, especially when homeschooling, it’s essential that a child’s curiosity is sparked continually. STEM allows them to see the connection between what they are learning and how it’s getting implemented in the real world. Here are some options you can consider exploring for middle school students:
- Multiple homeschool groups regularly plan and host competitions. You can participate in challenges, chess clubs, and science fairs.
- You can have your middle schooler apply budgeting to home expenses, or you can ask them to plan the itinerary for a trip and calculate the miles covered.
STEM Projects for High School Students
If we go by a readiness assessment of the ACT college, almost 50 percent of students who had expressed enthusiasm towards STEM were 11-14% ahead of their peers. This is in terms of college readiness. The more engaging you make STEM for high school students, the more likely they will succeed in college. Here are some ways that you can follow to integrate STEM in their thinking process:
- You can enroll in one of those STEM subscription boxes. They are custom-made for teens and inspire them about engineering and other subjects, using objects around them.
- You can explore the Pinterest board of a2zhomeshooling.com for ideas, or have experimental journals printed out for a better understanding of scientific investigation.
The most significant advantage of homeschooling is that the kids can learn and progress at their speed and in their ways. The lessons can be tailor-made based on how the child is performing. Let’s assume they are good with mathematics but struggle with the physics chapters. You can ramp up the difficulty level of math topics and tone it down in physics. Another example can be of a kid struggling with writing and more inclined towards using technology for video reports or presentations rather than essays. You can easily facilitate that. STEM fits in perfectly in such instances. The Math experts at Cuemath firmly believe in this and design tailor-made courses to ensure that each child reaches his true potential. Cuemath conducts Live Online Math classes.
If you are more interested in referring to online curriculums to integrate STEM in homeschooling, there are great courses available online. The curriculums and courses you can definitely explore are Cuemath, UZinggo, Science4Us, and TeachEngineering, for different sections of the STEM curriculum.
-By Vaibhav Lall
Vaibhav thrives on two things - a good story and the magic of numbers. With his write-ups at Cuemath, he takes math outside the textbook and uses it as a tool to discover the world. Having over seven years of experience creating digital content and educational material, he is now writing for his favorite readers - parents and kids.