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The Engine of STEM Gains STEAM

August 1, 2017

 

Why comics are a powerful tool for teaching STEAM?

 

STEAM takes the standard acronym of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and inserts an A for Arts. How could arts help teach STEM concepts for Pre-K and Elementary School children? Answer: Picture books that accentuates experiential learning. Picture books that teach STEAM concepts using a hands-on approach can have a powerful impact on children in nourishing their interest in STEAM from early childhood into adulthood. For Pre-K and elementary school children, picture books are the primary drivers in the continuum of STEAM learning: we remember 30% of what we see and 90% of what we do!

 

What would building a simple motor teach an elementary school child?

 

 

When you teach your elementary school child to build a simple motor (my favorite simple machine!) using a coil of wire, magnet and a battery (see Figure), not only will they become familiar with the objects that surround them, but also the forces that act upon these objects. This hands-on approach then lays the foundation towards a deeper understanding of the mechanics behind electricity, magnetism and Fleming’s left hand rule that will be learnt in middle school and beyond. Hands-on STEM projects, thus, acts as a fuel to spark the engine of innovation.

Merely focusing on scientific concepts such as force, motion, gravity, and energy, does not provide children the platform to find a problem and solve it from an invention perspective. It is the experiential learning component that is extremely important to necessitate the process of problem solving through trial and error that results in the quest for deeper learning to understand how things work. Stories that use creative illustrations to solve problems using STEM concepts make learning science a fun experience. There is no substitute for this experience!

STEAM, what it’s all about:

  • For Pre-K and elementary school children, picture books are the primary drivers in the continuum of STEM learning: we remember 30% of what we see and 90% of what we do!

  • Picture books that teach STEAM concepts using a hands-on approach can have a powerful impact on early learners in nourishing their interest in STEAM learning into adulthood.

  • Hands-on STEM projects acts as a fuel to spark the engine of creative arts to help innovate.

Praba is a children’s book author of a STE(A)M series for Pre-K and Elementary School Children. He uses creative illustrations to teach STEM concepts from an experiential learning perspective. His books have been recently reviewed by Midwest Reviews and have also been nominated as the “2016 Children’s Literary Contest Finalist” for the Pacific North West Association Award. Praba’s motivation to write stories for children, especially girls, is to inspire them to take STEM careers as women currently hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering. He is an avid blogger and blogs on STEAM and Experiential Learning. For more information, visit us at: www.boon-dah.com

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