Tuesday, August 20, 2013


When you hear the word “stem” you usually think of various types of plants. However, when we think of STEM we are really focusing on something different. We at the Children’s Museum in Easton spoke with our outreach educators Krissy Cannizzo and Michelle VanVoorhis about what STEM really means and how we’re using it to enhance your child’s education!

The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition works to support STEM programs for teachers and students at the U. S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM related programs,” explains Michelle, “Members of the STEM Coalition believe that our nation must improve the way our students learn science, mathematics, technology and engineering and that the business, education, and STEM communities must work together to achieve this goal.”
Many children grow up learning to be fearful of these fields. They think they are boring or too hard or simply follow in their parents’ footsteps. If you despise these subjects, there is a good chance your children will learn that from you. However, through implementing STEM ideologies the coalition aims to garner more interest in these subjects for the bettering of your children’s education, and ultimately, our society.

As Michelle expands on this idea she says, “My aim is for children to feel that science, technology, engineering, and math are activities they can enjoy doing.  Through these fun activities, children can develop basic understandings and be inspired to continue to pursue interests in these areas.  Parents can also come to the understanding that STEM is not ‘just for boys’ or ‘just for smart people’. “

You may be asking, “how can math, science, and technology be easy?” Well, there are actually many simple activities you can do that use these principles if only you look at them in different ways.

Krissy provides us some examples: “Yesterday I was at a YMCA in West Roxbury where the children built (engineered) boats then tested the strength and durability of their designs using weighted mainipulatives.  I then incorporate mathematics in the experiment by challenging them to add and subtract weight.  

Our second project involved testing and mixing amounts of food coloring to water (mathematics) to make the primary colors and then giving them the opportunity to explore and mix colors on wax paper ( science/chromatology).  After using paper towels to blot up the mixed colors, the children could let the paper towels dry and construct (engineer) butterflies.  

The last project provided the children to briefly learn about the history of dinosaurs and their extinction through the ice ages.  I gave each child a cup of ice with a dinosaur frozen inside which they can explore ways to excavate using salt, warm water vs. cold water, etc.”

There are a lot of different activities parents and families can do with their children that promote this type of developmental learning. Your children will be learning while having fun!

Krissy says, “Visit the http://www.connectsemass.org/stem/ website along with the PBS Zoom and Fetch sites that can recommend activities, games and books, visit their local libraries especially this summer.  The local libraries in the SAIL Network are offering free workshops related to STEM, and of course visit the Children’s Museum in Easton where STEM can be found in all the exhibits.”

The Children’s Museum in Easton works hard to incorporate STEM in both the museum and its programs. Michelle shows us that STEM is incorporated in “The Fetch lab, many of the drop in classes, the Raceways, Wild Place…and parents can incorporate STEM questions almost anywhere, such as counting, estimating, predicting, building, designing, comparing, etc.” The Museum even offers Education Outreach programs that come to you! Check them out here: http://www.childrensmuseumineaston.org/educationoutreach0.aspx

No matter who you are, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are all important in the world we live in. The STEM program is great for getting your child off to the right start! Whether you begin trying some activities at home or you bring your children to our museum, keep these ideologies in mind and your children will be on a great track.

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