STEM with Purpose: 5 Things to Expose Your Budding Engineers to

STEM With Purpose

If you are interested in STEM, then you can find MANY STEM activities on Pinterest.  My goal though is to primarily to STEM with purpose.  Instead of just doing a bunch of random activities I find on Pinterest, I would love to do activities where there is a specific learning objective and helps to strengthen my kids in a particular area.  My brother graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He is now a patent lawyer.  I asked him 5 things parents should be exposing their kids to if they are interested in engineering.

Five Things to Teach a Kid Who Wants to Be an Engineer

5 Things to Expose Your Budding Engineers To

  1. Teach them how gears and levers work.  Learning about gears and levers will help them to understand about force, rotation, and torque.  You can have your child to experiment with seesaws, building blocks set that have gears, windmills, etc.
  2. Have your child experiment with how to build a bridge to be stronger structurally.  You can begin with a toothpick bridge exercise.
  3. Teach you kids about electricity and magnetism.  For example, teach them how to make a simple motor from a paper clip, battery, and wire.
  4. Help your child to learn about how fluids move and apply force.  You can have your child to build a generator or windmill.
  5. Teach kids how simple circuits work.  For example, have them to build a switch and a light bulb.

I am grateful to my brother for taking the time to give me these tips as he is EXTREMELY busy.

I’ve been told that no matter the field of engineering your child ends up going into, pretty much everyone is in the same classes during the early years, so in general, these are good concepts to begin exposing your child to even if he doesn’t want to be in particular a mechanical engineer.

Create an Inventor’s Box for Your Kids

So am I saying that you shouldn’t let your kids tinker and have fun exploring.  NO, of course not!  I think it is very beneficial to have your kids to tinker.  I think it’s a great idea to create an inventor’s box/tinker box for them so that they can take things apart and make new things while also discovering how things work. We want our kids to to be kids, and to have time to let their imaginations run wild.  Check out my blog post about STEM Simplified: Create an Inventor’s Box.

So I am NOT saying that I believe your child’s STEM journey should include a bit of randomness, what I am saying is that instead of most of the time just randomly choosing a STEM project to do, know how it’s going to help your kids be that engineer, architect, computer scientist, or chemist.  If your child shows a lot of interest in chemistry, then do STEM activities will that will help to foster growth in chemistry.  If your child shows tendencies of wanting to be an architect, introduce him early to the idea of drawing blueprints.

Be More Intentional

So try to be more intentional about the activities you do with your children.  Have a plan as to what you want them to learn from a particular activity.  For a great website that has lessons and many times an accompanying worksheet, check out my blog post about a Free Website that Has Free Engineering Curriculum.

 

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Showing 2 comments
  • Kristen
    Reply

    Great tips – I like that you asked someone who was trained in the field to provide their insight. It always helps to have real world experience.

    • Shenek Alston
      Reply

      Yes, he worked as a mechanical engineer. Now he’s a patent lawyer and helps people who are inventing things. 🙂 To be a patent lawyer you need a math or science background, so if your child is interested in engineering, law is an option as well!

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Five Things to Teach A Kid Who Wants to be An EngineerSTEM book: Iggy Peck Architect