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Spring STEM Ideas

Spring STEM Ideas

STEM is becoming a very popular buzz word in education and you may be hearing a lot about it.  So what is STEM and how can it benefit your child?

It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Exposure to STEM subjects can help students develop important problem solving and critical thinking skills from a young age, and prepare them for school and future careers.

Here are five suggestions to help students get excited from our math and science tutors:

STEM Experiments

Students can try a series of STEM based projects from making their own slime at home to conducting science experiments. If you are looking for a guide check out  Try This! 50 Fun & Safe Experiments for the Mad Scientist in You.

Books

Visit your local library or bookstore to pick out books with STEM content for students of all ages. There is no shortage of books to choose from starting with picture books to older content. Looking for inspiration? A few of our favourites include Charlotte the Scientist is Squished and  Innovation Nation.

Extracurricular Activities

Encourage your child to look into STEM based clubs, extracurricular activities, and after school programming. Tap into STEM related interests like coding and robotics.

STEM Role Models

Know someone in a STEM-related job? Invite them over for coffee or dinner and let your child learn and pick their brain about what they do.

Educational Field Trips

Extracurricular trips are a great opportunity to expose students to new learning experiences. Visit your local science centre, museum or aquarium for some enriching adventures outside of the classroom.

Looking for additional STEM inspiration? Feel free to check out our website and social media for more ideas.

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10 Winter STEM Activities

STEM Winter Activities

It’s January and we are in the heart of the winter season.    To celebrate the winter months our team of tutors has pulled together some of our favourite Winter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) ideas and activities.    We have also included an A for STEAM to make it Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

The ideas below cover a wide variety of STEM activities, but focus on a common idea: Winter!

1) Learn about Seasons: build a circle of the year with four quarters (one for each season).  This incorporates fractions (quarters), art (pictures to show seasons) and engineering (if you are able to spin the wheel).

2) Take an Education Field Trip: Even in the cold weather it is nice to take a break from the house.  Take your child to the Ontario Science Centre which has great activities and exhibits to learn about STEM.

3) Play with STEM Toys:  Our President, Joanne Sallay features 10 STEM Gift Ideas For Brainy Kids

4) Snow Science: Fill three jars with ice, snow and water and see if they all have the same H2O.  Leave the jars in room temperature and watch the snow melt.  Before doing so guess which jar will end up with the most water and why. Discuss how water changes form when it freezes, melts or becomes a gas.   For older students, this helps promote an understanding of chemistry and molecular structure.

5) Shapes and Patterns: Make coloured icicles by attaching a string to a porch or deck and letting it hang with a cup filled with colored water. Watch as ice forms along the string with different colours.

6) Pictures and Videos: have your child take pictures of any holiday gifts to create their own collage or video.  There are tons of online tools to edit, add music or overlay text.

7) Build a Snowflake: Using construction paper, tape / glue and photos of real snowflakes, this activity teaches children about basic shapes, symmetry and the structure of snowflakes.

8) Friction: Learn about friction and try to push different items across the ice and see which one goes the furthest.

9) Learn about Nature: National Geographic for Kids has tons of games, videos and articles to learn about nature and the winter season.

10) Build a Snowman: How could we not include this for winter activities.  Building a snowman helps teach kids engineering to build items with the right size and shape to ensure they stay sturdy and don’t fall over.

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Four Back-to-School Trends To Rule The School Year

Back to School

After a long summer away from the classroom, the shift to back-to-school can be a stressful time for families. It’s tricky to change pace and step back into a routine, but a smooth transition is achievable through planning, talking with children about their feelings, and of course, shopping for essential supplies.

Here are 4 of the latest school trends that will get everyone in the family prepared for a successful school year.

Litterless Lunches

Reusable containers continue to rule for back to school lunches. Families who choose to use eco-friendly lunch containers have so many choices that are great for the environment and their wallets.  Among our favourites are colourful lunch totes, stainless steel insulated water bottles, and bento boxes that make packing healthy lunches simple.

Supplies with a social conscious

Staples carries ME to WE school supplies which are perfect for the socially minded child, letting them see the educational impact of each purpose using a unique tracking code. This collection includes binders, lunch bags, and backpacks.

Canadian-themed products

Canada’s big birthday isn’t over yet! Students can continue to celebrate Canada 150 all through the school year. Staples has patriotic products including animal and lumber jack 150th-anniversary pencil pouches,  Hilroy moose themed planners, and Merangue Canada beaver pens.

Tech tools that rule

Technology in the classroom is here to stay with schools embracing STEM learning, Makerspaces, and some even adopting bring your own device programs. There are so many neat tech tools and apps that support student learning, but one of our current favourites is Tile, the personal item tracker. Students can use it for locating all their lunch boxes, sports gear and even cell phones.

What’s more, fun that shopping for back to school?  A giveaway from Staples for a back-to-school product bag, valued at approximately $300, full of the coolest trends and essential supplies PLUS a $50 Staples gift card.

Teachers on Call Back To School Giveaway

The bag will include over 25 items including: Maxwell Action Kids Headphones, Whoosh webcam cover, Avery Emoji Binder, Merangue Emoji Pen, Sistema Ice Rod and Snack Attack Container, Elmers Slime Glue Set, Mr. Sketch Scented Markers, Staedtler Wopex Eco-Friendly Pencils, Crayola Doodle Scents Markers, Staples 2 Port Wall Charger and much, much more!

Entering is simple. You can win the Staples back-to-school package and gift card by entering below! We’ll announce the winner on August 25th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Apps to Prevent the Summer Slide

Preventing-the-Summer-Slide

Summer is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends and enjoy the beautiful weather after a busy school year.  Unfortunately, studies show that between June and September, students can lose around 2 months of learning and have trouble adjusting for the fall.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fun ways for students to keep learning over the summer.   Outside of full programs, there are a ton of fun apps out there, many of which students don’t even realize that they are learning.

Here are three great apps that help stop your kid’s summer slide:

App for Math: Splash Math for Grades 1-5

Splash Math is an educational program that provides comprehensive coverage of the curriculum with over 300 skills for Grades K-5. The use of animations, graphics and games make children master the basic math concepts like Addition, Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Algebra and Geometry in a fun and interactive way.

App for Reading: Endless Reader

Endless Reader introduces “sight words”, the most commonly used words in school, library, and children’s books. Kids need to recognize these words by sight in order to achieve reading fluency. Recognizing sight words is advantageous for beginning readers because many of these words have unusual spelling, cannot be sounded out using phonics knowledge, and often cannot be represented using pictures. Kids will have a blast learning sight words and their context and usage with the adorable Endless monsters. Each word features an interactive word puzzle with letters that come alive, and then a sentence puzzle with words that become what they describe. See the word “dog” as a barking dog, and the word “up” reach for the sky!

App for Science: KidScience

Unleash your inner scientist with KidScience, the app that puts a science lab at your fingertips. Kids, parents, grandparents and babysitters can search for experiments based on ingredients on hand, kids’ ages (2 to 92), time available, or type of science. Simple recipes, combined with photos and watch-and-do videos, make science easy for everyone. Explanations of the science behind the fun are includes with each project, and new experiments are added regularly.

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Toronto Summer STEM Field Trips

STEM

Summer is approaching.  The holiday break and warm weather doesn’t mean that learning has to stop.

There are numerous activities and places to visit around Toronto that are fun and promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning.   Here are some of our favourites for families of all ages:

Ontario Science Centre:  The Science Centre features over 500 exhibits, live demonstrations, Toronto’s only public planetarium and IMAX® films in the dome theatre. The AstraZeneca Human Edge is a new exhibition hall that explores all the wonders of the human body. Bring your little ones to KidSpark, a unique discovery playground and learning space for children age 1-8.

Canada’s Wonderland:  How does an amusement park teach us about science?  At Canada’s Wonderland with all the excitement of roller coasters, there is a ton of science behind building all of the structures.   Consider all of the measurement, motion, gravity, speed and acceleration that teaches children about science and physics.

Lego Land Discovery Centre: Looking for a STEM activity on a rainy summer day?  Look no further than the Lego Land Discovery Centre a family experience with over 3 million bricks under one roof. There are Rides, a 4D cinema, Master Model Builder workshops and more! You can also see Toronto’s iconic attractions made out of LEGO in MINILAND.

Ripley’s Aquarium: Experience  one of Toronto’s newest and most exciting attractions. Containing over 5.7 million litres of water, the 12,500 square metre (135,000 square foot) interactive aquarium immerses guests in a thrilling underwater adventure that showcases more than 16,000 marine animals

Staycation: After a busy couple of weeks, why not bring the activities home.  Click here for some fun science experiments for kids do with you at home.  These activities have a Canadian bend to it to celebrate Canada 150.

 

 

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How to Make STEM Fun

Making STEM Fun

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are becoming increasingly important in education and ultimately the workplace.  With the majority of the fastest growing careers requiring Math and Science,  The Ontario Ministry of Education has taken notice and is evolving the curriculum to focus more in these areas.

However, for some students, STEM is not something they are enthusiastic about.   They can find it challenging or not as exciting as other activities like gym or art.   Sometimes students are not even aware of the importance STEM will have to them in the future.

Here are some ways parents can make STEM learning fun and engaging.  When utilizing any of the ideas below, it is important to first start with your child’s interests, be creative and ask lots of questions.

Highlight Visionaries:  Show the impact of people like Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg and Bill Gates have on everyday life with computers, social media and smart phones.

Play Games: There are a ton of wonderful apps to promote science and math learning that are fun.  Some of our favourites include: Basket Fall (physics / geometry), Endless Numbers (math / numeracy) and Hopscotch (to promote coding).

Hands On Projects:  There are tons of approved STEM related activities that easy to do at home.   Here is a list of 40 kid-approved activities to try.

Extracurricular Programs: There is no shortage extracurricular programs and camps in the Toronto area that make science learning fun including the Ontario Science Centre and Mad Science.  We would encourage you to do your research on the activity that best fits your child’s interest and personality.

Educational Programming: Watch the Discovery Channel or other educational programming related to science and to see how it relates to everyday life.

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STEM – 5 Amazing Apps for Kids

Education and STEM learning is being transformed by technology.   Binders, notebooks and pencils are being supplemented by tablets and laptops.

With the right balance and avoiding unnecessary distractions, technology can enable increased learning for all students.  One way to utilize technology is through apps that support self-paced learning.   Apps can encourage students to be interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Although there are hundreds of STEM apps available,  here are five we would recommend to enable STEM education:

1) Swift Playgrounds: Designed by Apple, this app teaches children how to code in a fun and interactive way.  It requires no coding knowledge and is perfect for students starting out.

2) Crazy Gears: A creative, highly accessible and fun option for exploring physics and engineering.  Crazy Gears is a problem-solving game that encourages kids to think critically, problem solve, and explore physics and other STEM topics.

3) Isaac Newton’s Gravity Game: Challenge students with the amazing physics puzzles.  Young learners are able to creatively obtain and then immediately apply their new knowledge of physics thanks to an introduction to levers, ramps, pulleys and more.

4) Endless Numbers: A wonderful app for young learners to develop numeracy.  Kids aged 4 and up will interactively learn number recognition, sequences, quantities, patterns and more.

5) The Robot Factory: Kids can build the robot of their dreams using over 100 parts and nine colour schemes to choose from.

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8 Ways To Encourage Students To Pursue STEM

It’s clear that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is part of our children’s future. With the opportunities growing in this career sector, we want to help encourage more students to step into the tech-arena. We have eight suggestions to help:

  1. Create A Maker Space In Your Home. Use a variety of  tools and materials in a safe manner (e.g., batteries, wires, gears, wood, tools, paper etc) that challenge your child to create, experiment and make.

  2. Be A Role Model. Sign up for a coding class yourself! It will help you gain an understanding of an unknown field and make you more comfortable with supporting your child’s entry.

  3. Find A Role Model. Know a someone in a STEM-related job? Invite them over for coffee or dinner and let your child pick their brain about what they do!

  4. Swap The Extracurriculars. Look beyond the usual extra-curriculars and have your child join their school’s coding club.

  5. Educational Field Trips. Visiting museums, experiencing different climates and cultures all contribute to your child’s life education. Wherever you go, try to include a day trip for a STEM-related activity.

  6. Read Books. Go to the library to choose books about inventors. We enjoy the growing series from illustrator David Shannon that celebrates STEM and people who love to build and create with Rosie Revere, Engineer, and Ada Twist, Scientist.

  7. Play Games That Solve Problems. Be open to tech-games like Minecraft which encourage children to build and create. Bring home puzzles and games with strategy for Family Game Night.

  8. Teach Research Skills. Children have many questions. Show your child how to find the answer using age-appropriate technology. One great starting point is to demonstrate how to use Siri to find answers on YouTube and Google. As well, make a list of websites they can look through on your device that satisfies their curiosity (e.g., National Geographic for Kids)

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5 Ways To Foster Your Child’s Interest In STEM

Science, technology, engineering, and math, also known as STEM is an educational topic you will be hearing more and more about in the coming years as schools aim to give children the skills needed for our digital world. STEM is a philosophy of developing hands-on problem-solving skills through gathering evidence, research and making sense of data and information. We’re sharing five ways you can foster your child’s interest in STEM at home:

  1. Download educational apps that support inquiry. The paid TinyBop apps are an amazing place to start for curious children in the early years. They’ve created a series of apps that align with many themes in the curriculum and help children understand more about how things work (e.g., the human body, skyscrapers, machines, etc.). In particular, the Plants app stood out because children may record notes to each other to share their thinking and ask questions.

  2. Play Minecraft. This game lets children invent and build their own worlds, and if you download a Minecraft mod, children can even begin to start building code into the game!

  3. Create a home ‘Maker Space’. A maker space consists of an area in your home (it could even be a box) with a variety of tools and materials that are appropriate for your child’s age yet offer a challenge. Batteries, wires, gears, wood, tools, paper, pencils….the possibilities are endless. The purpose of such a space is to encourage children to create and experiment and make, similar to engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs! If possible, provide access to tech for your child to document their work.

  4. Read fun books about boys and girls who love to build and create. We enjoy the growing series from illustrator David Shannon that celebrates STEM:  Iggy Peck, Architect, Rosie Revere, Rosie Revere, Engineer, and the latest, Ada Twist, Scientist.

  5. Listen to a podcast. One to start with is Tumble, a science podcast for kids between 8-12 that explains how science works and talks about scientific discovery. They cover a variety of interesting topics in an engaging way that makes science accessible for the whole family!

Want to know more about STEM? Read WHAT IS STEM AND HOW CAN YOU ENGAGE YOUR CHILD?

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What is STEM and How Can You Engage Your Child?

STEM is becoming a very popular term in education circles.   So what is STEM?   It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education.

But STEM is not just about learning the periodic table or trigonometry signs.   It is a philosophy of developing hands-on problem solving skills through gathering evidence, research and making sense of data and information.   In an increasingly complex world, future potential careers will be in fields related to STEM or that leverage problem solving skills that are developed through these subjects.

Click the video below to learn more:

Now that you are familiar with the topic, here are some helpful tips for parents to engage their child and develop strong problem solving and research skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

1) Create an Environment Outside of School:  Give educational programming a try programs like the Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth, PBS’s Sid the Science Kid or History Channel’s Modern Marvels.  Engage in other activities like visiting a science centre or other extracurricular programs like Mad Science.   After the show or program talk about the areas learned together.

2) Display curiosity and show your interest in learning.  Your enthusiasm should rub off on your child.

3) Encourage Asking Questions: Encourage your child to ask how and why to develop a problem solving mindset.  If you don’t know the answer to their question, learn about the topic together to encourage building research skills.

4) Use Real Life Examples:  For example, when you throw a ball in the air, use it to talk about gravity.

Additional Resources:

Successful STEM Education

STEM Sprouts Teaching Guide

National Geographic Education

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