What inspired us to start The Pint-Sized Professor? We love science and learning about the world around us, so we are always drawn to books and stories that make complex concepts easy to understand.
After all, everyone, from kids to adults, deserve to discover what they are passionate about, especially if they have been told that their marginalized group “can’t” be interested in STEM!
So, let’s start with the basics:
What is STEM and when should we begin to teach it?
STEM Education, a term initiated by the National Science Foundation, is an educational approach which focuses on one or more of the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math. In an era when technical and scientific skills are increasingly important in the work force, exposing children to STEM learning in the early years is key. Currently, only 26% of STEM jobs are held by women. It is important to ensure that girls as well as boys are exposed to and encouraged in the area of STEM.
It’s never too early to introduce STEM to your child and to consider how to sustain interest in STEM in elementary school. It is important to help instill an attitude of inquiry from an early age. Children are naturally curious about their world, so give them plenty of opportunities to explore and to learn through play by providing interesting toys for toddlers and infants to examine. With close supervision, also offer real objects to study and learn about. Often real objects, like an apple or a squash, a shiny water bottle or textured paper, are much more interesting to the littlest learners than plastic toys and materials. Through innovative play, your child’s STEM Education can start at home.
Source: Bright Horizons Resources
Science Books for Little Leapfrogs (Infant-5)
Research supported by the National Science Foundation concludes that young children benefit from learning STEM subjects, which include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, because these disciplines play a fundamental role in setting the foundations for future learning.A report published by the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) also recognizes and highlights the advantages of STEM in early childhood education.The report recommends that greater emphasis be placed on STEM subjects in children’s early education and that these subjects should be viewed with the same importance now placed on acquiring literacy skills. The report illustrates the importance of support strategies in early childhood education.
These support strategies include:
Treating all children as STEM learners and ensuring they have equal opportunities
Encouraging children to discuss and elaborate on both their ideas and findings
Actively listening to children and watching how they play and relate to one another
Suggesting further investigations to test their ideas
Parents can ensure that their children are being exposed to STEM at home by encouraging independent thinking and by making connections between their experiences at school and at home.For instance, asking a child what they learned in their science class that day or week will help to consolidate that learning experience as they explain and discuss the topic. Parents can then encourage their child to undertake a mini project relating to the topic at home to encourage independent thinking. This will show the child that STEM learning isn’t confined to the classroom.
Science Books for Medium Mischief-Makers (5-9 years)
But STEM exists outside of the classroom as well-
and the chance to combine theory with experience is essential!
We’ve discovered that nature is not just good for kids’ health; it improves their ability to learn, too. Even small doses of nature can have profound benefits.The evidence for this comes from hundreds of studies, including experimental research. In one study, fifth-grade students attended school regularly at a local prairie wetlands, where science, math, and writing were taught in an integrated, experiential way as students participated in onsite research. When compared to peers attending regular schools, those who’d attended school outside had significantly stronger reading and writing skills (as measured by standardized tests) and reported feeling more excited about school because of the experience.
Students at the outdoor school who’d previously had low attendance rates ended up with higher attendance, too. Other studies echo these findings. One study found that students at schools with more tree cover performed better academically—especially if they came from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Still another compared students randomly assigned to take science lessons either in a classroom or in a school garden and found outdoor lessons more effective for learning—and the more time they spent in the garden, the greater their gains.
Science Books for Big Biologists
(Ages 9 & up)