STEM For Toddlers

STEM for toddlers seems to be farfetched, but scientific experimentation has proved that it is a great idea. Introducing STEM to toddlers helps them to understand the concepts of science, technology, engineering and math. In today’s world, kids are exposed to all kinds of electronic devices, beginning in early childhood. Their observational skills are so keen that they learn how to play or operate electronic devices by experimenting with them. If STEM is properly introduced to toddlers, it can help them to better understand the basic concepts of science and arouse their interest in these programs.

Children apply basic scientific methods to everything they see or touch. Babies have their own scientific method to explore the world. If an object (e.g., small plastic food) is placed next to toddlers, they pick it up to explore it, holding it in their hands to figure it out what it is; try to perform experiments by putting it in their mouths; determine whether it is ingestible or not; and report by playing with it, eating it or spitting it out. It covers all the five steps of basic scientific method (observation, hypothesis, experimentation, analysis, report your finding). It is better to introduce science to toddlers and make the entire lesson plan according to their level of understanding. Make the experiment very simple and playful so they enjoy it while at the same time learning from it. For instance, conduct a “sink or float” experiment with an object and ask if it will stay on the surface of the water or go down to the bottom.

Children become familiar with the electronic devices all around them by watching or by intuitively pressing buttons. After a short time, they know and understand which buttons to use on TVs, computers and tablets.

Their minds can easily grasp any knowledge imparted to them. Show them once how to make a tower with blocks or how to assemble tracks: provide the pieces and let them explore the things they can make with them. It will amaze you to see the things they do with the pieces provided to them.

To encourage math, parents can help children to explore shapes. Puzzles or toys with geometrical shapes help them understand the variety of shapes. Toys like the abacus are very good tools for teaching math while playing.

Experiments for Toddlers

Learn Surface Tension of Water with Paper Clips
Learn Surface Tension of Water with Paper Clips
Put water in a cup and fill it to the rim. Add paper clips to the water. What happens? The surface of the water formed a dome because drops of water stick to each other and keep the water from spilling. This is called surface tension. Note: adding too many paperclips breaks the dome and water spills out of the cup.

Magic Milk Science Experiment
Magic Milk Science Experiment
Pour milk on a plastic plate. Add a few drops of food color to the milk. Dip a Q-tip in dish detergent and touch it in the middle of the plate What happens? Magic colors will appear.

Sink and Float Science Experiment
Sink and Float Science Experiment
Fill a bucket with water. Place objects into the water and see what floats and what sinks.

Lava Lamp Science Experiment
Lava Lamp Science Experiment
Take a water bottle and fill it half way with water. Add cooking oil until nearly filled. Then add food color and mix well. Let it settle down. What happens? The water and oil stay separated. Cut an Alka-Seltzer tablet and place it into the bottle. What happens? It makes a lava lamp.

There are many books, resources and learning devices available at the Mercer County Library System to make your toddlers better learners in the area of STEM.

3-D Engineering: Design and Build Your Own Prototypes with 25 Projects by Vicki V. May
Summary: In 3D Engineering: Design and Build Your Own Prototypes, young readers tackle real-life engineering problems by figuring out real-life solutions. Kids apply science and math skills to create prototypes for bridges, instruments, alarms, and more. Prototypes are preliminary models used by engineers - and kids - to evaluate ideas and to better understand how things work.

STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3-8: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics by Jo Anne Vasquez
Good reference book for teacher and professionals.

S.T.E.M. 1 videodisc (138 min.)
Summary: Nick Jr. introduces preschoolers to the exciting curriculum of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.). Join your favorite Nick Jr. friends from Paw Patrol, Bubbles Guppies and more for exciting adventures and lessons in problem-solving and everyday technologies, perfect for jump-starting young imaginations and developing inquisitive minds.

Science Play!: Beginning Discoveries for 2- to 6-Year-Olds by Jill Frankel Hauser
Summary: Contains sixty-five activities that introduce readers to scientific exploration; including such subjects as weather, soil science, plants, color, and light.

I'm a Scientist: Kitchen by Lisa Burke
Summary: Turn your kitchen into a learning laboratory with a few household items and a little help from a grown up. Why do eggs float in salt water? How can a balloon act like a magnet?

I'm a Scientist: Backyard by Lisa Burke
Summary: Turn your yard into a learning laboratory with a few household items and a little help from a grown up. What do plants need to grow? How do snails move?

I'm a Scientist: Water Fun: Fun Experiments for Budding Scientists by Lucy Barnard
Summary: Presents hands-on experiments that bring science to life, right in your own home.

Bedtime Math by Laura Overdeck
Summary: Over 100 kid-friendly math problems on topics from jalapeƱos and submarines to roller coasters and flamingos, designed to make math a fun part of kids' everyday lives.

Bedtime Math. The Truth Comes Out by Laura Overdeck
Summary: In Bedtime Math, math and fun facts combine for one wacky and wild adventure! Now kids can discover the truth behind all their favorite things: marshmallows, Coca-Cola, astronaut ice cream, and more.

Amazing Visual Math
Summary: Amazing Visual Math reinforces curriculum skills, and teaches concepts from shapes and geometry to multiplication and fractions in a unique and visual way. Lift to learn about polygons, flip to find out about fractions, fold to figure out what makes a cone so special.

-Chetna Kukreja

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