There’s no getting around it, STEM education is a really big deal. Science, technology, engineering, and math careers are an integral part of today’s job market — and they’re only expected to grow. Therefore, it’s imperative our children learn these skills in order to find lucrative and rewarding careers when they come of age.
There’s an abundance of experiments and games out there to pique children’s interest in STEM subjects, but I wanted to go a bit further and get the kids out of the house. Children learn more when having fun, and what’s more fun than a day trip? So, without further ado, here are three day trips that will get your kids interested in STEM.
There are amusement and water parks almost everywhere in the United states, and while most would see them as nothing more than a place to have some fun and fried food, they’re actually a hotbed of STEM learning.
As you work your way through the park with your children, discuss the engineering behind large structures such as roller coasters and water slides. When you stop for lunch, take some time to go over the physics at work behind their favorite rides and the force at play on their bodies. Once you’re back home, let them try their hands at creating their own rides!
If you’re looking for something slightly more relaxing than an amusement park, consider planning a trip to the local hot springs. Take a dip and discuss how the groundwater is heated by geothermal forces and brought to the surface to form the hot springs. You can also talk about how when the water that feeds a spring passes through rocks underground, it sometimes dissolves minerals from the rocks and brings them to the surface — loading the spring with minerals like calcium or lithium. Learn more about how hot springs work here.
Image ©Sam Howzit
It might be surprising, but video games are a great help in developing STEM skills. Teachers are actually implementing video games in the classroom for that very reason. You’ll be the coolest parent on the block when you take your kids to arcade and expand their knowledge of mathematics at the same time — not to mention school them in Mortal Combat.
Technology and math are everywhere the video game world. Take a moment to explain the part trigonometry plays in video game programming, how the graphics wouldn’t exist without geometry, and how physics has been incorporated into modern games.
Once you’re home, get cozy and have a movie night featuring documentaries about video games — this gives your kids a backstage pass to see how games are made.
Getting your kids involved in STEM doesn’t mean boring them to tears while trapped inside the house. STEM is everywhere, even amusement parks and arcades. Even some of the best “kids clubs” can do wonders for your child in terms of getting out into the community and exploring your world. Twin Cities Kids Club in the Minneapolis is an awesome example we recently discovered!
Bottom line? Do a little reading, pack a picnic basket, and get out there — your kids are waiting for you!
Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene