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Posts Tagged 'STEM'

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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STEM Education Over March Break to Keep Learning Fun

With the March Break coming up fast, it’s time to start planning activities to keep your child engaged over the short break.

One of the best ways to pack some education into the spring break fun is to try STEM-related activities. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and focuses on combining these four areas into a powerful learning that connects to real-world experiences.

Our friends at Indigo make it easy to foster your child’s interest in STEM during March Break with blocks, books, and DIY activities that open up possibilities to budding inventors and engineers. We’ve gathered a few of our favourite choices, and Indigo is offering them all to one of our lucky readers!

LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox

With the LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox kids can customize and build their own talking robot friend named Vernie. An extra neat feature is that Vernie responds to voice with facial expressions that directly correlate to it’s mood. The LEGO BOOST is a great way to encourage your children to participate in STEM, as they complete fun activities and code their own robot friend.

Ultimate Slime DIY Tutorials

Making slime is all the rage these days, and this book that includes over 100 Slime recipes, that don’t use Bora, won’t disappoint sticky-loving kids. Creating slime is an amazing STEM activity that allows children to explore chemical reactions, different properties and perform tests. The Ultimate Slime DIY Tutorials book offers so much fun for over the March Break.

Ada Twist, Scientist

This wonderful book is about the inquiring minds of children and is a direct celebration of STEM. Follow along as Ada Twist and classmates open the conversation about gender roles and bring a very welcome perspective into women and science.

Klutz: Make Your Own Bath Bombs

Kids can scientifically transform their bathtime by learning the science associated with creating the best fizz-including chemical reactions. Using different molds, children can mix together ingredients to create colourful bath bombs.

Gumball Machine: Build a Machine that Really Works

Little engineers with a sweet tooth will enjoy the freedom to create their own working gumball machine using easy-to-follow instructions that show kids how parts work together to create a machine.

Iggy Peck’s Big Project Book for Amazing Architects

This is the ultimate STEM book for kids, with over 40 fun design and STEM projects, from doodling and drafting to blueprints and building. Iggy Peck takes little readers on a fun adventure with a unique mix of art skills, science and technology to create some stable structures. This activity book will give children the chance to invent new gizmos, design dwellings, imagine a new cityscape and more.

We’ve partnered with Indigo for #KidsBreak this year, with an #IndigoKidsBreak prize pack to keep kids having fun while they are off school. Value approximately $325.


Entering is simple. You can win the Indigo prize package of all our favourite items  by entering below! Contest is open to people living in Ontario, and ends March 8th.

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5 STEM Websites for Kids (that are fun!)

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is an important area of focus in the classroom and at home.  One of the questions we often receive, is how do I engage my daughter or son in STEM?

Fortunately, several of our Math and Science tutors, have shared their 5 favourite and fun STEM websites for kids:

1) The Science of Winter Olympics: With the Winter Olympics around the corner, the NBC Learn team has teamed up with the National Science Foundation to prepare 16 videos about how Math and Science impact sports.   There is an opportunity to learn about gravity, friction, speed and the biology and chemistry of the human body.

2) Science Bob: This website covers everything about science, including research tips, experiments and a Q&A section for everything you were wondering about science.

3) Cool Math Games: Excite your younger kids with this fun and interactive website that covers all things math, including numbers, logic, skill and strategy.

4) National Geographic Kids: This website inspires young adventurers to explore the world through games, apps, maps and videos.

5) Brain Pop Jr: This site and it’s older version Brain Pop offers tons of educational videos and games in areas like math and science along with social studies, art and history.

 

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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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Five STEM Gifts Kids Will Love to Receive (and Parents Will Love to Give)

STEM Gifts

With the focus in schools today on science, technology, education and math (STEM), many modern toys are catering to this trend. After all, STEM gifts provide much more than entertainment. They offer opportunities for children to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Here are five educational gift suggestions that kids will love to unwrap:

1)  VTech Brilliant Creations Genius Junior Laptop

Adults will feel good about giving preschoolers their very first laptop. It promotes comfort with a device they see their families using from a young age, and gets children comfortable using the working cursor mouse before beginning school. This mini computer has 80 learning games and is bilingual.

2)   Tile

For a cool tech item, check out Tile, the personal item tracker. Many adults depend on it for locating their keys and other belongings. It’s also a great present for students of all ages and can be used to track backpacks, computer cases, and sports equipment – just to name a few items students don’t want to misplace.

3)   Instax Mini 9 Camera and Instax SP-2 Printer

The holiday time is about making memories with friends and family. Youngsters will like taking pictures on the spot and watching them develop. Families will also love the ability to print photographs immediately from their smartphone or tablet with this printer. There are so many creative options over the holiday season to use this gift. Create your own photo station at your next holiday party and give your guests their picture to take home.

4)  Learning Resources Gears!

Any building enthusiast will love the opportunity to expand their creativity and put their budding engineering skills to use with this motorized 121-piece gear set. It includes flashing lights and a power motor which introduces children to architecture and secures their knowledge of STEM concepts such as cause-and-effect.

5)  Treasure Chest of Wood

Perhaps you’ve heard of ‘loose parts’ learning experiences at your child’s school? This treasure chest is a perfect example as it’s full of a variety of wood shapes including dowels, spindles, blocks and petal-like shapes. Children will be inspired by the playful, open-ended possibilities that encourage problem-solving and lead them to natural explorations. Those with an artistic flair will be asking for paint and glue and turn this STEM activity into one which includes the arts (STEAM).

What would you add to the holiday shopping cart?

We’ve partnered with Staples Canada for a giveaway that’s just in time for the holidays!

You can win a Staples $100 gift card by entering below! The contest is open to people living in Ontario and ends December 19th.

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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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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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