It’s funny. I was never ‘good’ at science – it shows when I’m faced with a DIY challenge! It’s perhaps a product of my generation, or because I was not surrounded by scientists when growing up so had no role models in that area. Or perhaps I was always more inclined towards the arts? Nevertheless, I’d like to foster a love of STEM in my children.
It’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) week in our girls’ school and I want to share with you a few groovy things you can do or share with your children to foster a love of STEM.
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Our own approach to STEM
First let me tell you briefly how we approach it. My partner is very scientific in his approach, I was always more into art and may not be very handy or have a scientist’s brain but what I don’t do is admit it in front of my two little girls, or talk myself down. We never want them to think that women can’t do anything, or that they are not good at Science or Maths. From an early age, we sought to interest our children in Science. They had Usborne science books even before they could read.
We go to museums, done ‘science’ at home and enjoy a spot of maths. Actually, I do like maths, I have been known to do maths just for fun, though I’m a little rusty now.
This is one of the toys they received as a present:
Here are other few things we like…
Usborne has many engaging books for all ages and disciplines. They have board books, sticker books, books for older children, it’s a great publisher. We have this Look Inside: Science (Usborne Look Inside Board Books) which the girls (2 and 4 years old like and keep going back to).
As they grow up we will definitely get the maths and coding books like these two:
The Usborne books are generally genderless. Thankfully there is now a trend for feminist books that celebrate women and their achievements so that little girls can grow up knowing that nothing is off their limits. Mind you… boys can, and should, read these too, so they grow up to respect their fellow colleagues.
We ADORE Ada Twist, scientist and other books in the series. The books are just so well written and illustrated, and easy and pleasurable to read. Marie Curie (Little People, Big Dreams) and Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World are in our wishlist.
We also have Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World. which lists various smart, courageous and determined women from history including Marie Curie. It’s not a linear narrative, and it’s probably best for older children who can read it by themselves.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was phenomenally successful. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 is now available and, of course, includes a few women scientists amongst other notable women. I was desperate to get my hands on it for my girls (and myself!) but then decided that it’s a book we’re probably going to read a lot and it’s best that it’s in Portuguese to support our bilingual journey, so we decide to order it in Portuguese from Wook who delivers all over the world.
Pretty much any messy play will support learning about science. You don’t need much: a few containers and spoons or spades of different sizes, water, pasta, sand, mud, corn flour and any food. Most kids love messy play and they can learn so much about the world around them. They can learn about weight, size, how one thing can be transformed when it interacts with another, etc.
If you rather have a contained place for sand and water play, this is a very popular sand and water table toy.
Lego is a brilliant toy for boys and girls, especially now that it’s more ecological. Duplo starter kits are great for 18 -36 month to start with and we love this Savannah Duplo.
Then around three years old they graduate to Lego. There is a Lego series for girls called Lego Friends, which is usually pink and around subjects perceived as ‘girly’, but any Lego set will do.
These days there are fantastic toys that introduce children to coding such as this card game.
or any of the products by this awesome company called Tech Will Save Us, you can also buy their products on Amazon, like this Electro Play Dough Kit for 4 years old and up:
Science4You is a Portuguese company specialising in science toys. Their products are stocked around the world and range from kits to make soaps and slime to more adventurous ones like this Explosive Science kit:
The National History Museum and the Science Museum are well known for their great collection and excellent education programme. But did you know that The Royal Institution also has a fantastic programme for families?
The London Observatory, of course, is great to learn about astronomy. On Saturdays at 11.00 am there is a usually a special show for smaller children.
The relatively new Institute of Imagination is an exciting addition to London life. It’s been defined as “a cross between a community centre, a laboratory, a studio, a gallery, science centre and a museum.” Such fun!
Other things we (ok, I!) like the sound of
Little Inventors is an initiative by designer and inventor Dominic Wilcox and takes children’s invention ideas and makes them real. How awesome is that?
Science birthday parties. Now, that’s refreshing! There’s only so many princesses, unicorn or superhero parties one can go to!
What are your tips? Share your science-related recommendations below.