As the world warms up from a frosty winter, it’s time to get outside and explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) alongside the budding flowers, growing green trees, buzzing bugs and frolicking animals! Keep reading for four great ideas on how to make the most of STEM learning this spring, and what to do when April showers make us take shelter.
1. Experiment with Gardening
Growing a garden of fruits, vegetables or your favorite flowers is not only enjoyable and rewarding, but it’s also a great way to practice hands-on science. By starting a garden from seeds, your child can learn responsibility while caring for plants as they grow through many stages into something amazing. They will also learn STEM concepts when making sure the plants get enough sunlight, proper soil and plenty of water. When your family takes care of a garden together each day, it will be even more exciting for you when it’s time to harvest a homegrown snack or make a beautiful bouquet for someone special!
Not sure where to start? Check out this STEM activity that will take your family through the process of creating a mini greenhouse and growing a bean or pea plant!
2. Open a Backyard Bug Hotel
Throughout the spring, we find tiny critters in the air and on the ground. While many insects are thought of as pests, they all serve a unique purpose in your local ecosystem. Bees and butterflies help pollinate flowers, earthworms support plant growth by enriching the soil, and some beetles are great decomposers! These are just a few ways local bugs provide value to people and the environment.
To support these vital species in your own backyard, your family can work together to build a designated space for pollinators or purchase a pre-made bug hotel. A bug hotel is an insect habitat that provides native insects and arachnids (like spiders) a safe place to shelter and grow their population. To further your child’s STEM learning, consider reading “Bug Hotel: A Clover Robin Book of Nature” by Libby Walden together to learn more about the critters you might discover in your own bug hotel!
3. Set Up an Animal Observation Station
Insects aren’t the only creatures springtime brings to your backyard – many native species are waking up from their slumber and looking for their next meal! To turn your outdoor space into a safe habitat, the Humane Society suggests making simple changes like providing a source of clean water, skipping using harsh chemicals on your lawn and adding a brush pile to act as shelter for small creatures. You also might want to consider setting up a birdfeeder as we describe in this blog.
Once you notice wildlife begin to take an interest in your space, help your child set up a station for journaling their findings. This could be as simple as pulling up a chair to a window with a view of the area, or as sophisticated as setting up an outdoor camera to snap action of shots of animals on the move. No matter how you choose to explore the nature in your own backyard, encourage your child to take notes, draw pictures and save photos of their observations. To spark deeper thinking and ignite their curiosity, ask your child questions about their research and work with them to uncover the answers!
4. Spend a Rainy Day on At-Home STEM Activities
If you’ve created a garden, you know that sometimes we need a little rain to make things grow! Spring is certainly known for growth, but that also means days of muddy paths and surprise showers. Don’t let a rainy day get in the way of building valuable STEM skills this season. We have plenty of awesome indoor activities that will keep the fun going no matter the weather, while also encouraging your child to follow their innovative dreams.
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To discover new and exciting ways to bring STEM learning to life for your family throughout the seasons, we encourage you to stay tuned to our blog.