Coding Club, Maker Spaces, these are just two components of the growing focus on STEAM
(Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Math) education in our schools. This cross-content expansion of STEM, STEAM
, allows our students to explore multiple subjects through hands-on making and integrates design and art into the STEM experience. Carrying out STEAM projects also fosters collaboration, something that comes naturally to children, as evidenced in their play with friends and family. Hands-on projects provide students with the opportunity to build something with others and to share ideas and gain new insights through collaboration. These communication and collaboration skills will serve them well in all areas of learning and future careers.
We encourage higher-level thinking in our students by using computers and other digital devices to be creators, not just consumers. You can provide similar opportunities at home, taking advantage of coding and “maker” activities online using the following resources.
- Code.org: A website providing kids the opportunity to design and manipulate a variety of games, create intricate works of art and track mastery of new skills. A multitude of unplugged activities do not even involve a computer.
- Break It Down: Encourage kids to take apart electronics (computers, DVD players, televisions) to see their different components. This process, which Hayes uses frequently with her students, helps kids demystify what is going on under the hood of electronics, just like coding.
- Scratch: A website where kids use code to create animations, music videos, design games, send interactive cards and more. Kids communicate with others throughout the world to collaborate on a project and give design feedback to one another.
- Interactive Robots: Students work on teams in programming robots to complete certain tasks. Encourages problem solving and sequential logic. Sphero and Olliie and Dash and Dot are a couple of examples.
- Makerspace: Community centers are being developed in schools where students use various tools to physically engineer ideas for solutions to problems. They depend on collaboration and critical thinking, and they can be linked to coding.
- NOT a free choice, but if you have an iPad and are looking for an STEAM-related purchase for your child you may want to look at Osmo.