The field of education has a habit of creating programs for children and then labeling them with acronyms. S.T.E.A.M. (an outgrowth of S.T.E.M.) is one more. With the recent national interest in advancing our children’s skills in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, S.T.E.M. was born. More recently, Art has also been added to the mix. The “No Child Left Behind“ act of 2002 put into focus the need for children to increase their proficiency in Reading and Math on standardized testing. This in turn created a “teach to the test” atmosphere in those two subjects virtually leaving other learning, as add on to teach if extra time was available. The recent initiatives in S.T.E.M. recognize that our children do not have the proficiency in blending subject matter together. For example, can you use Math to create a model or design a car or a machine or program a computer? Furthermore, can they use different mediums to achieve the same goals. Allowing children open-ended, hands-on, opportunities to manipulate, tinker, create and think without a pre-planned end goal, supports the child’s developing creativity, flexibility in thinking, problem solving, and collaboration (when done in small groups).
Here at The Sandbox, we recognize the need for young children to have access to an environment in which they can interact with and meet the challenges of S.T.E.A.M. In addition to our wind tunnel and magnetic wall downstairs we offer an art room where one can create to their heart’s content. In the Fall of 2018 we began a Super Slime Saturday one afternoon a month and hosted our first S.T.E.M. & Maker fest complete with a Lego demonstration and i3Makerspace. Join us on the second Saturday of each month for our Awe-STEM Saturday event. And check out our newly update Learner’s Loft with our light table, giant light pegboard, Lego wall, and chalkboard wall. I enjoy seeing not only the children tinker and play but also the parents and grandparent relive some of their youth with the manipulates like the Lego’s and large light bright! S.T.E.A.M. materials and time to use them provides a multi-sensory approach for all learning styles to utilize. In the end, we are all children at heart who are inquisitive at all stages of life.