What STEM and STEAM Really Mean For Kids

Anyone who has looked at toys, schools, books and just about anything kid gear related has seen the phrase STEM and in some cases, STEAM. Deep down you know it's good in theory, but you may wonder what it actually means for the child when it comes to the kid gear and used toys you're buying. And, with so many STEM options, what will actually help your child get ahead and learn the best. Of course every little one proves different, but with a little guidance, choosing the STEM and STEAM items to surround your children will be a snap.

What is STEM

To start with, STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. It was first initiated by Dr. Judith Ramaley and the National Science Foundation in 2001. At the time Dr. Ramaley wrote, "It's impossible to make wise personal decisions, exercise good citizenship, or compete in an increasingly global economy without knowledge of science and the ability to apply [it] thoughtfully and appropriately.”

At first the term was used mainly for high schools, college and future careers, not grade school kids and toddlers. But now you can find this phrase on all sorts of kid gear for all ages, from books to activity sets to toys. The push, when it comes to little ones, is to support children in exploration, curiosity, making connections through the physical world and learning how to reason. All of this gets integrated into the STEM programs, on a much more basic level for younger kids.

STEM In the Home

So, what does STEM look like? Think simple building devices that use gears you can put together, hatching real eggs, playing with blocks to rise cities or landscapes, and watching crystals grow. It can be as simple as putting together a marble run and delving into how gravity and connections work. Planting seeds and keeping track of how the plant grows, what makes it grow better and what it looks like along the way.

Remember Tinkertoy Construction Sets? Those wooden stick and bauble build-anything-you-want toys were invented in 1913 and remain the original STEM toy, long before the acronym became such a buzz word. In a way, Tinkertoys demonstrate what STEM is about, and now there are so many ways to delve in.

Understanding STEAM

In the last five years or so there's been a big push to get the arts into the STEM programing, hence STEAM. One argument for why art programs shouldn't be a part of this particular curriculum is because in the past a lot of schooling has lagged in the math and science department. In a way STEM helped push these subjects to the forefront, something, experts say, will help young people lead our country in the future. The debate continues by stating art is already found in engineering, science and technology, so there's no need to focus on it separately.

Of course proponents of STEAM want children to see how art is effected by and in these four subjects.  The idea centers around engaging students’ strengths by incorporating art activities. It may increase motivation and could lead to STEM success. When it comes down to it, incorporating art into science, technology, engineering and math just might be the aspect hooking certain kids. Either way, a little creativity certainly can't hurt.

And guess what, some famous tech people have benefited from STEAM including Airbnb founder Brian Chesky, who majored in fine arts; YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, a double major in history and literature; and the chief executive of Logitech, Bracken Darrell, majored in English. Not a bad line up at all.

Choosing the Best For Your Family

With so many products out there, it can be daunting choosing items. The first step is to think about what your kids like, and at Good Buy Gear there's used kid gear online for every type of child. If they lean toward the more creative side of learning, a wooden easel offers a world of possibility. Active kids may gravitate toward hunting for bugs with kid gear such as the Nature Bound Bug Catcher Toy. The everything-in-its-place child could benefit from puzzles and blocks. Then the engineering tots, you know, the kids the like to build and figure stuff out, a V-Tech GearZooz Roll & Roar Animal Train is a great option. And for those who want to discover something new, try the Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit, which allows young ones to really look into things in their environment.

Kid Gear to Help Push STEM

One of the best ways to get into STEM comes in the form of used toys and second-hand baby gear. That way you can try out items at a lower cost and find out what really resonates with your child. Good Buy Gear has tons of great items. For example a kid-sized microscope, maze creation toy and tons of gears to create with. Because all the gear is done on consignment, it changes frequently and was tested by other kids before coming to the warehouse. Of course however you decide to get into STEM and STEAM, it will all benefit your children.

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Comments

Jay W. - September 12, 2019

Great description of the difference between STEM and STEAM. I completely support Arts in the schools. It’s an important component of a well-rounded education that also includes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

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