Tips for Celebrating National STEM/STEAM Day
By Rachel Linch
Do you remember the first time you heard “STEM” used as an acronym? I remember being confused at first about what it meant. Science? Technology? Engineering? Mathematics? Of course, these weren’t brand new concepts, but I had never grouped them together like that.
Now, here we are years later, and the acronym has become a normal part of my educational vocabulary. Also, the acronym of “STEAM” has been introduced into the conversation by including art.
The focus on STEM/STEAM is an important development in American education. Outside of being fun or challenging school subjects, these skills are valuable to society and contribute to innovation. It is important to create STEM/STEAM programs because they help teach life skills to students in a fun and engaging way.
And guess what? There is a whole day dedicated to celebrating STEM/STEAM and it is coming up. National STEM/STEAM Day is on November 8, 2021, and you don’t want to miss it! Keep reading to learn more about this national holiday and how you can take part in it.
What is National STEM/STEAM Day?
According to an article from the University of San Diego, the acronym STEM was first introduced in 2001 “by scientific administrators at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which had previously used the acronym SMET.” However, the idea of focusing on science and technology in American education “dates back at least to the early days of the so-called ‘Space Race’ between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.”
Over the last 20 years, the increased focus on STEM/STEAM in American education has helped increase the number of people going into STEM/STEAM careers. On this topic, the 2006 bipartisan congressional STEM Education Caucus said, “Our knowledge-based economy is driven by constant innovation. The foundation of innovation lies in a dynamic, motivated and well-educated workforce equipped with STEM skills.”
If you want to learn more about STEM/STEAM education in America and why it is important, check out this article.
How You Can Celebrate National STEM/STEAM Day
There are many creative, exciting, and affordable ways to engage with STEM/STEAM activities on November 8. One of the main things to consider is interacting with STEM/STEAM does not have to be boring or difficult. In an article by Crème de la Crème, one suggestion is to observe what your students or “children like spending their time doing to determine what STEAM activities they’re already taking part in and skills they’re already practicing.”
In other words, activities like painting, baking, and playing video games can easily be connected to STEM/STEAM skills. Whether you are teaching to a full classroom or are looking for your own inspiration, here are some other ideas from Crème de la Crème to help you and your students engage with National STEM/STEAM Day.
ONE: Visit a local museum, zoo, or nature preserve.
Museums, zoos, and nature preserves are visually engaging and interactive experiences related to STEM/STEAM. Depending on what your student is most drawn to, pick a museum, zoo, or nature preserve nearby and check it out. Not only will it help your student engage with STEAM skills in an organic way, but it will also be a fun memory you can share together.
TWO: Create a science-themed art project.
With all this STEM/STEAM talk, we can’t forget about art! If your student enjoys creating art, search for a fun science project that allows them to combine these important STEM skills. Check out this video featuring Grover from Sesame Street or this video with a few easy science project ideas to get started!
THREE: Try an at-home science kit.
There are many different at-home science kits you can purchase online or at certain local stores. You can use the activities your student already enjoys doing to find a kit that is relevant for their age and interests. Then, you can spend time working on the activity together or let them have fun working through it by themselves.
FOUR: Go to the library and check out books related to STEM/STEAM.
One of my favorite childhood memories was going to the library and picking out the books I was interested in. I always left feeling excited and ready to dive into my new reads! A fun way to spend National STEM/STEAM Day could be to head to your local library and check out a couple of books that relate to the skills your student is interested in. Not only will they feel empowered to pick out books they are interested in, but they will also get to learn more about STEM/STEAM.
Going Beyond National STEM/STEAM Day
Celebrating National STEM/STEAM Day is a great start to bringing these skills into your life and the lives of your students. Of course, the fun doesn’t have to stop after November 8!
It’s important to continue learning and teaching STEM/STEAM regularly. Again, implementing STEM/STEAM activities into your learning routine doesn’t have to be hard. Once you find an activity your students enjoy being a part of, find a way to mix it into their routine. Engaging with these activities will help better equip them for life in and outside of the classroom.
Another way to engage with STEM/STEAM is to become a teacher. Do you have a passion for STEM/STEAM? Are you interested in finding out how you can use your bachelor’s degree to help students learn about STEAM? Learn more here about how you can get your alternative teaching certification through iteach and make a difference.
Whether you want to teach the next generation about these skills or want to find new ways to bring these skills into your home, National STEM/STEAM Day is a great place to start. We hope you have a great time celebrating this important day and that you learn a thing or two along the way!