With the Holidays almost upon us one thing that keeps popping up in my world are suggestions for STEM Toys. I had a vague idea that stem had something to do with encouraging science/tech learning in kids but beyond that I knew little.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and is related to a curriculum initiative originating in the United States. In 2009 President Obama launched “Educate to Innovate” – an education initiative that is designed to support student engagement in STEM subjects and encourage more students to move into Science and Tech careers. It is, at its heart, an economic initiative – economies grow with innovation. And while the educational initiative started in the US, the concerns behind it have inevitably made their way to Canada.
Two key pieces of the Educate to Innovate initiative (which is what people are often referring to when they use the STEM acronym) is student engagement and project based learning. Since these are already key components to Montessori education we are ahead of the game in terms of teaching and encouraging innovation.
In addition with the focus on concept learning through materials rather than direct instruction, Montessori-educated children are learning how to learn. This is particularly helpful when what to learn is constantly changing (perhaps not in early elementary, but later).
- Montessori Builds Innovators (Harvard Business Review)
- Article from the North American Montessori Center
And if you are looking for STEM-related toys (though I personally have decided not to worry about it too much, except that so many of them are so cool):
- Geeky Mama’s Guide
- Modern Parents Messy Kids (the site, honestly, is kind of a mess but the content is good).