STEAM become a hot topic in the world of education and in the business community, but what does STEAM have to do with your preschooler? What does STEAM mean and why is it important to plan STEAM activities for preschool?
What is STEAM?
STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, art, and math, and all of these are important to include in a preschooler’s education. In some ways they seem developmentally inappropriate, but be assured, they certainly are. Young children, even as young as toddlers, not only have a natural curiosity for STEAM activities, but they are also good at them too! This is because STEAM activities encourage and challenge a preschooler’s natural sense of curiosity.
Preschoolers need time and exposure to science, technology, engineering, art, and math to develop a strong foundation for future learning by exploring STEAM skills and concepts through play and discussion. And then applying those skills through more play.
What’s the Difference Between STEM and STEAM?
Simply put, art. STEM activities omit the art component, thus making the acronym STEM instead of STEAM?
In 2011, President Obama called on all United States educators to ramp up their teaching game in reference to STEM related learning in the classroom. Referring to it as “…our generation’s Sputnik moment,” it was driven by the hopes that increased STEM activities would make the United States more competitive in the everlasting battle of science and technological innovation with other countries.
Only a few short years later, John Maeda, former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, spearheaded a movement to include art in STEM by arguing that innovation will not and cannot happen without design thinking and creativity. Adding the arts transformed STEM into STEAM. (Source)
This addition has been advantageous, especially when considering the benefits of art for young children and preschoolers.
Important Facts About Preschool STEAM Education
STEAM activities encourage important learning characteristics and qualities for preschoolers.
- Science requires preschoolers to not only answer but also to ask questions. Science powers curiosity, investigation, and problem solving, often involving experimentation and exploration.
- Technology refers to applying the scientific knowledge a preschooler gains. They do this by using the most basic tools like crayons and rulers, as well as more complex technological inventions like microscopes and computers.
- Engineering activities in preschool are concerned with the design and building. It is testing structures and designs, as well as discovering and testing posisble solutions.
- Art encourages creativity and process development, as well as allows children to illustrate concepts they are learning.
- Mathematics isn’t limited to just number sense for preschoolers. It also includes the ability to see and create patterns, shapes, as well as organizational skills like graphing and sorting.
STEAM Activities for Preschool
There are so many amazing STEAM activities that are absolutely appropriate for preschoolers. Check out these ideas:
Why should young children learn STEAM subjects?
STEAM isn’t just the next buzz word in early childhood education. It’s a term that will stay, as our modern world requires the general population to know more in the STEAM fields.
And STEAM teaches children skills that are not related to core content, such as working with others, perseverance and diligence, creativity, and ingenuity.
What you should know about STEAM skills:
They can be learned.
Children have the ability to learn foundational concepts in these subjects even as preschoolers. Developmentally appropriate in science, engineering, technology, art and math nurture STEAM skills and concepts early on. They should be built upon through ongoing opportunities within guided play and small group instructon.
They are useful.
Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of STEAM education for preschoolers is that the skills learned in STEAM activities are cross-curricular. This means that they are transferable and useful across multiple content areas and many aspects of their lives. For example, process skills, whether learned in art, science or math, are basic skills that can be used in any subject area and in everyday life.
They are in increasingly high demand.
Jobs in STEAM are already in high demand, so imagine what options your preschoolers will have in 14 years when they become adults. As STEM professional fields continue to advance and. develop, so does the need to teach young children through STEAM activities. One thing is certain, skills in science, technology, engineering, and math will be increasingly important.
What are some of your favorite STEAM activities for preschool?