The benefits of creating a STEM education are clear. Educators expect that careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics will continue to flourish and be in high demand. Along with that, the mindset that goes into STEM projects includes great building blocks for life skills, such as problem solving, flexibility and cooperation.
Unfortunately, some of the great opportunities for kids may make STEM seem out of reach for some families. From pricey science sets to those day camp programs that conflict with your work schedule (and commute), it can feel like these activities are much too tricky to take on.
The good news is that learning to be a maker can fit any budget. After all, the heartbeat of STEM is solving problems, improving design and being curious. If you look at the world the right away, you and your kids can find plenty of ways to get immersed in STEM without spending hundreds of dollars.
Be a collector: As we blogged earlier, you can put together a ready-to-go STEM kit, just from collecting and keeping everyday objects (rubber bands, tape, marbles, straws, glue) and recyclable materials (egg cartons, empty milk gallon jugs, paper towel tubes, yogurt containers). These make great materials for homemade buildings and experiments.
Garage sales are your friend: Kids grow up all too quickly. But on the upside, other parents are dealing with the exact same thing. That means parents of older kids eventually have a lot of stuff to unload. For you, garage sales, thrift shops, flea markets and online sales are tremendous resources for supplying your kids with building kits.
Have a building challenge: Whether you use LEGO Bricks, everyday objects or both, get family members and friends building together with a challenge. Write some activities on index cards, then pair up and see who can build the best structure. Try one of these fun building challenges with ordinary paper plates from the blog STEM Activities for Kids.
Science screen time: When it’s time to relax, look to science. Choose library books that tell stories about great inventors and how they changed our world. Nature and science documentaries are great mediums for revealing the hidden worlds of animals and the marvels of everyday science; both fascinate and engage kids. And next time you’re on a long car ride, listen as a group to one of these kid-friendly science podcasts.
After-school programs: Schools, community centres and even scouting and nonprofit organisations are all places that can offer affordable hands-on STEM fun for kids. Check out the lineup of after-school programs, day camps, kids’ night out and more from Bricks 4 Kidz. Here, kids build models from LEGO Bricks and LEGO Technic pieces such as gears, axles and electric motors. You won’t find these engineer-designed models at any store. Your child will have a blast while getting hands-on fun with STEM concepts.