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Follow the trail of curiosity: 10 tips to encourage your child’s STREAM learning

Friday November 19th, 2021

Just think of all the places STEM can take your child. To the moon or the center of the earth. To the ocean floor or the primeval forest. To an operating room or cybersecurity ops.

zSpace ComputerScience, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – the fields are known collectively as STEM – open a vast world of learning and opportunities for kids. The Library loves it so much that we add Reading and the Arts to call it STREAM because it all starts with learning about the world around us and visualizing the next big thing.

Encouraging your child to enjoy STREAM can be as simple as picking up a book. Sure, kids who want the mad-scientist experience can create exploding volcanoes and bubbling beakers, but at its heart, STREAM is about answering those “I wonder” questions.

“Let them follow their interests,” says Dauphin County Library System’s Youth Services Administrator Hannah Killian.” Most kids are curious about the world around them and how it works.”

Try these 10 tips to help your child dive, soar, or dig into STREAM:

1. Liftoff with NASA @ My Library programs.

Dauphin County Library System’s exciting new partnership, NASA @ My Library, brings kids up close with NASA's scientists and cosmos-shattering technology. Join Zoom sessions, explore science concepts with Family Take and Make Kits, and earn points for reading and activities. The Library will be presenting NASA @ My Library programming through September 2022, so visit dcls.org/nasa often to see where you and your child can boldly go!

2. Encourage reading on their favorite topics.

Is your child curious about the night sky? Asking questions about rocks? Tearing apart computers to see how they work? Always building bridges with Legos? Counting their Cheerios? Find books for all age levels on every STREAM topic imaginable at The Library. 

3. Don’t fear the nonfiction section.

If you have a reluctant reader on your hands, maybe it’s not the child. Perhaps it’s the books they’re reading. The Library’s nonfiction section beckons with books to explore everything from scientists to stegosaurs and otters to operating systems.

4. Let kids help with household tasks.

STREAM lessons lurk everywhere. “The most effective STREAM learning is when you connect it to something that is already happening in a child’s life,” says Killian. Why are you measuring the flour for the pancakes? How does detergent clean the laundry? How do tomatoes grow in the garden? Explain what you’re doing and why.

5. Model curiosity.

You won’t, and can’t, have all the answers. When you don’t know, start the search, and bring your child in on it. “Let them catch you being curious about the world around you,” says Killian.

6. Don’t coerce. Encourage.

If you bought a science experiment kit and your child isn’t using it, don’t force. Put out a few pieces to see if it piques their interest.

7. Create a maker space at home.

Look around. Is there a spot inside or outside your home where your child can get messy? Set aside a place for making and concocting.

8. Curl up.

The same goes for reading about the wonders of science and nature. If possible, create a quiet space where the seating is cozy, books are abundant, and your child can take notes and write down questions.

9. Get hands-on for free.

No need to buy pricey maker kits. Find Library books chockful of science experiments your child can do with common household ingredients. Or find videos and online instructions. Join the Wild Kratts in making a backyard bird feeder or follow a TikToker who forages wild food.

10. See the movie, read the book.

Hidden Figures.” “Apollo 13.” “Star Wars.” “Wall-E.” “Back to the Future.” Movies are filled with STREAM concepts. Find books and videos on the historical characters who shattered boundaries and explore whether the science you’ve seen together is real or pretend. (Let’s talk about those lightsabers, shall we?)

For a planet’s worth of STREAM resources, visit one of The Library’s locations or explore dcls.org.

Christina Lauver
Marketing & Public Relations Manager

The above piece represents the views of the author and is meant to inspire dialogue and increase understanding and a sense of community. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of The Library. Members are welcome to comment below or contact us privately by using our online contact form >