What is STEAM

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STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and maths.

STEAM is a popular topic in schools and in the media right now. As parents and caregivers of young children you might be asking “How is STEAM relevant for my little person?” These five key concepts are a way of boosting creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.

Young children are hands-on learners and learn best by being actively involved. Because of this they are natural scientists and investigators and are already involved in STEAM activities. You might have observed this when your child asks questions, solves a problem or explores the world around them. STEAM also builds early foundational maths and science skills like critical thinking, problem solving and hypothesizing.  

STEAM doesn’t require robots or special technological kits or gadgets. For young children it’s about exploration and you can easily incorporate these concepts into everyday life and play.

Everyday STEAM experiences include:

  • Use cups in the bath to pour water, talk about how the water flows, the amount of water, or objects floating and sinking.
  • When shopping, talk about fruit and vegetables and where they come from.
  • Play with toys that have wheels and follow moving parts with fingers to see the effect.
  • Build with blocks, use blocks to measure something, or build a tower talking about balance.
  • Provide crayons and art materials and encourage experimentation.
  • Plant some seeds or water plants in the garden and talk about what they need to grow.
  • Talk with your child and:
    • make observations
    • encourage them to ask questions
    • make and encourage predictions
    • read books about STEAM
    • talk about what you might, see, hear, feel taste or smell
    • encourage exploration and experimentation
    • talk about colours, shapes and sizes
    • discuss outcomes and solutions
    • follow their lead.

Picture books that support STEAM:

  • Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
    • Talk about the challenges in the book and how sometimes it’s important to keep trying. Talk with your child about the type of work an engineer does.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
    • Assist your child to count the food in the book and talk about where the food come from. Discuss the life cycle of the caterpillar.
  • Mix It Up by Hervé Tullet
    • Encourage your child to predict what colour will be made when two colours are mixed together and discover the answers as you read the book. You might like to experiment and mix coloured playdough together.
  • One Woolly Wombat by Rod Trinca, Kerry Argent
    • Talk about each of the animals and where they might live, make observations like “We have magpies that wake us up in the morning, just like the book.” Encourage your child to help you count the animals.
  • Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman
    • Spirals are everywhere. Help your child trace the spirals in the book. Go for a walk and see if you can find spirals in nature.   

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