You have probably heard of STEM or STEAM as you explored preschool options, or browsed parenting websites, and with good reason: Teaching with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)–or STEAM once you add in Art–nurtures the ability to problem solve and think creatively; important skills both in the classroom and the modern workplace. The US Department of Commerce makes a compelling case for introducing children to STEM concepts (read the report summary):
- STEM workers are more likely to commercialize patents,
- Workers in STEM fields earn on average 29% more than non-STEM counterparts,
- STEM occupations have increased over 24% in the last decade (vs. 4% for non-STEM),
- STEM degree holders earn more, even when working in non-STEM occupations, and
- Three-fourths of STEM workers have a college degree, compared to a little over 1/3 of non-STEM workers.
For these reasons and more, you will find STEAM integrated into the Sparkles! curriculum. Students are introduced to subjects in a way that is age appropriate and encourages exploration, linking what they are learning to the world around them. For parents seeking an immersive STEAM experience, we also offer a PreK STEAM program at our Fair Oaks location (learn more), a learning adventure that builds confidence and problem-solving skills.
“Integrating STEAM in the classroom helps foster curiosity, creativity and innovative thinking,” said Amanda Miller, part of the Sparkles! Education Support team. In Sparkles! classrooms STEAM principles enable our students to learn how to approach a challenge, problem, or even a matter of simple curiosity with these steps:
- Think of a problem or ask a question
- Plan and Design
- Test and Improve.
Amanda also noted that Sparkles! STEAM curricula fosters skills that will serve students throughout their whole lives, such as Critical Thinking, Confidence, Problem Solving, Social Skills, Inquisitiveness, Creativity and Team-Building.
To keep the STEAM process fun, Amanda said that Sparkles! teachers provide “opportunities for a student to explore and discover as they play.” For example, STEAM projects can begin with a favorite story, leading into a broader discussion and related activities, such as this STEAM approach to reading and learning from The Three Little Pigs:
Problem/Question: “If you had to build a house, how would you make it strong enough to not be blown down?”
Plan/Design: We show the students various materials they can use and ask them to design their home, either individually or in teams, depending on our students’ needs.
Create: Students then build their houses, using the provided materials.
Test/Improve: Students try to blow down their houses or push on them. If they fall, they can rebuild with a new design.
Many parents ask how they can reinforce STEAM learning at home. We found a list of 50 great projects you can do with your child. Also, encourage your child’s curiosity: Go on family field trips, provide opportunities to propose and test theories, ask (and answer) questions.
Whether running a board meeting, sports team, platoon, or home, innovative, confident thinkers who know how to take on challenges creatively and solve problems will do well in life. STEAM is powering a bright future for our students!