STEM@home is a series intended for parents and caregivers of our students at WUSD. Feel free to pass on the links or print the articles that are appropriate to your students.
Is your student always asking questions? Why is the sky blue? How does our TV work? Where does our drinking water come from? As a parent, there are many different ways to respond. One way is to investigate the answers together in a way that encourages your student to think like a scientist.
STEM which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is a term used by teachers to encompass lessons and projects which include these subjects. STEM units usually start with a problem. The teacher guides the students through discovery and experimenting to find solutions. STEM does not just happen at school. In fact, STEM can be very effective, engaging, and fun at home.
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at the various aspects of STEM and how you can encourage your child at home.
Although there are many ways to explore science at home, TV is probably the easiest because it helps build background knowledge. Background knowledge is a term that teachers use to refer to what students already know about a subject before the teacher begins to explain it in depth. For instance, if a teacher were to do a lesson on quantum physics, students would need to know about algebra.
How do I help my child?
You can help your child build background knowledge in two ways. One way is to flip through the channels until you find something sciency (I’m declaring that a new word). Given cable and satellite services, there is bound to be a science program on at any given time.
Another way to help your child is to find specific programs. What are your students interests? Bugs? Outer-space? Mechanics? The world of science is broken into three main specialties: Life, Earth, and Physical. Life Science encompasses everything from human life, to animals, and even plant life. Earth Science revolves around our planet and the universe. Finally, Physical Science explains how and why things move. If your child loves making her toy cars go down a ramp, chances are that she will enjoy shows like “How It’s Made” and “How Do They Do It”.
What science programs are on TV?
Many channels provide at least one science program. Some channels, such as The Discovery Channel, provide more. Some of the more common channels and their programs include:
- Discovery Channel: Mythbusters, Africa, and Curiosity
- Science Channel: How Do They Do It, How It’s Made, and Strip the City (My new fave show)
- History Channel: America the Story of Us, Mankind the Story of All of Us, and Star Trek Secrets of the Universe
- National Geographic: Brain Games, Going Ape, and Untamed Americas
- PBS: Scientific American, Savage Earth, and Wonders of the African World
- Turner Classic Movies
That last channel probably through you for a loop. Turner Classic Movies? Science? In the month of January, TCM is broadcasting “Science in the Movies” on Friday nights. Click on the link to be directed to a page with the lineup of the movies and their showtimes. For instance, last week the channel featured movies about Madam Curie.
So, tonight, pop some popcorn, curl up with a blanket, and learn about science with your child, at home.