This month's Teaching Tip comes from Year Round Project-Based Activities for STEM Grade 1-2.
Children are naturally curious and love to investigate. The STEM approach to teaching is inquiry-based, which is defined as the process of asking questions and trying to find answers for those questions. The components of STEM--science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, all combine to offer students a vast array of highly engaging learning experiences in which teachers are able to capitalize on students' strong desire to learn about the world around them. This resource is for the educator who recognizes that the true task for a teacher is to assist students in developing a deeper knowledge of STEM subjects combined with the 21st century skills they will need to be successful.
Utilizing the philosophy of STEM allows educators to capitalize on the natural tendencies of young learners. Young students are, by nature, scientists and engineers--willing and eager to experiment, discover new things, and build and take apart anything they can get their hands on. The best way to capture and build their interest and excitement is to introduce science and engineering at an early age.
STEM-based projects are highly engaging, fun, and full of natural learning opportunities. These experiences will broaden students' world views, encourage them to think critically, and provide ample opportunities to connect and apply concepts learned to their everyday experiences.
Every effort has been made to include experiments and activities in this resource that use everyday materials, are easy to understand and facilitate, and ignite a desire for further learning!
Remember, an enthusiastic teacher introducing a concept is much more effective in developing successful project-based learning activities than a teacher with an extensive knowledge background who does not understand how to build the connections that facilitate learning for young students. Teachers who utilize everyday experiences and the numerous opportunities for incidental learning throughout the day understand how to best maximize those learning connections and implement project-based learning for young children.
Using the STEM approach to teach effectively requires a combination of introducing engaging materials while balancing the fun with the purposeful integration of connective activities that encourage the development of high-level, critical-thinking skills. Students are more likely to retain the knowledge gained through this approach as well as develop confidence and self-direction as they learn to work both cooperatively and independently.
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