What to look for in STEM activities that teach engineering for kids?

STEM is a hot topic for parents. It’s clear that well-developed science, technology, engineering and math skills will help kids in numerous ways today and decades down the road. Some schools have adopted STEM curriculums while others have STEM-focused after-school activities. What’s more, some parents are opting for STEM enrichment programs outside of the classroom to give their child an educational edge. Engineering stands out to many parents as a particularly important component of STEM. However, it can be difficult to know if a particular activity is really helping your child understand age-appropriate engineering concepts. If you’re going to invest your time and money into a program, you want to ensure it’s providing a rich and meaningful experience for your child. Many programs claim to be STEM focused but really are not. Before signing up, ask the program directors how all four disciplines of STEM are represented in the program. Oftentimes one discipline is dominant in the activity, however, others should be present to support and enhance the project. It’s the intermingling of all four disciplines that helps children better understand concepts and enjoy a well-rounded educational experience. Engineering must be a driving factor in the class because it’s the unifying thread throughout STEM. The Engineering Design Process (EDP) should be present in some manner in any program. This will ensure your child receives a quality experience that reflects the process used by engineers in the real world. EDP is a methodical series of steps that engineers use to create and solve problems. It’s critical to complete each step before moving to the next. In general, the steps of EDP include:

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Conducting background research
  3. Determining design requirements
  4. Brainstorming solutions
  5. Conceptualizing the best solution
  6. Creating a preliminary design
  7. Testing and redesigning
  8. Production

Bricks 4 Kidz offers STEM-focused classes that give kids the opportunity to work through the EDP process. For example, kids who sign up for a Bricks 4 Kidz robotics class build a robot using LEGO® Bricks and other components. They follow a step-by-step plan that allows them to create and use engineering ingenuity to build, test, solve problems and ultimately create a really awesome robot. In the end, kids will learn about important engineering processes through hands-on applications, giving them a great sense of accomplishment. There simply isn’t a better way to boost your child’s interest in STEM and teach them about engineering! Learn more about classes at www.bricks4kidz.com.

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