Science, Technology Engineering and Maths
For the uninitiated, the acronym STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths.
STEAM learning is cross-disciplinary, with an emphasis on problem solving. STEAM Play & Learn contains 20 fun step-by-step preschool projects about science technology, engineering art and maths. As the introduction to the book states “At the preschool level, this doesn’t mean trying to teach your kids robotics and engineering, but rather presenting them with open-ended projects that allow them to problem solve, make mistakes, get creative, and most of all, have fun.” The projects are things like a colour mixing lab, citrus volcanoes, a pool noodle marble run and marble mazes.
The difficulty level ranges from easy (requiring parents and teachers to do nothing more than set out the materials and offer a challenge to children) to difficult (adult-led projects with children offering problem solving ideas along the way). For those of you that like the idea of kids experimenting but are worried about the mess, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you: many of these projects will be messy… but that is surely half the fun of it all. And the children get to learn to clean up, which is also an important life skill!
Half of the projects are in the ‘easy’ category and I can see myself bringing these out again and again. There are several fun, hands-on, colour-based projects in this category that will easily be thoroughly enjoyed by Hannah even now, as a two year old.
The introductory Letter to Parents and Teachers located on the inside cover, is well worth a read. It buoys me with hope for the future if this is the way in which this generation of children are taught. It discusses: emphasising process over final product, encouraging tinkering, supporting children to become comfortable with making mistakes and trying again, and also to back off their work – breakthroughs often happen after challenge or failure and so learning to work through feelings of frustration is incredibly valuable
I love the approach of this book. The STEAM concepts are introduced in fun, hands-on, open-ended ways through simple projects. There are text boxes in among the experiments that explain some of the relevant scientific concepts: primary and secondary colours and capillary action, for examples. The associated concepts, regardless of some being quite complex and this book targeting a pre-school audience, are presented thoroughly but using age-appropriate language, thereby respecting the capability of the intended audience.