What is STEM?

What is STEM?
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Emma Vanstone, Science Sparks

Emma is a busy Mum to three children and passionate about science education. You can find Emma’s experiments and activities at Science Sparks which is full of fun, creative and engaging science based activities for children of all ages, perfect for home or at school. Find out more at Science Sparks. Emma is here to answer the question “What is STEM learning?” 

What is STEM?


STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. These four areas of learning are deeply intertwined and form part of every aspect of our lives. You might also have heard STEAM mentioned where the A stands for Art. Here at Science Sparks, we embrace every aspect of STEM and STEAM. Combining STEM with art based learning methods adds to the creative aspect which is so important when trying to engage young children at home or school.

 Why is STEM important?

Exposure to STEM subjects helps children to develop critical thinking, reasoning and investigative skills, whilst encouraging innovation and creativity. By stimulating a child’s innate curiosity about the world and allowing them to explore and ask questions from an early age, we can help develop a long lasting passion for science and discovery.


STEM – Sink or Float Activity Set

STEM at Home

Engaging children in STEM based activities at home is a great way to nurture curious little minds. It’s the perfect environment for exposure to open ended tasks to develop problem solving skills.

STEM activities don’t need to be complicated or use special equipment. There are many simple STEM learning activities that require almost no preparation. For young children, experiment with sinking and floating objects or drawing on mirrors. Why not build a bridge, roll cars on different surfaces or spend time in the kitchen experimenting with baking. Let children explore and, questions and find solutions! Try setting up free play activities such as rolling marbles down a homemade ramp. Add a tape measure to encourage the recording of data and more targeted exploration!

It’s never too early for a child to start their STEM education. My advice would be to start simple and let your child lead the activity. l usually find that answering one question leads to another and we then think about practical ways to investigate together. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to every question, no one person knows everything. Just taking the time to find out together is all that matters.

The garden is also a great, easy environment for exploration. Try hunting for bugs, talking about the different features of each and why they are useful. Even grow sunflowers or beans, count leaves, look for patterns and shapes and dig in soil.


Learning Resources GeoSafari Jr. Bug Viewer Jar

Learning in School

School is a great environment for cross-contextual learning. For example, children could dissect a flower and count the petals, fill beakers and jugs to practice number recognition or look for natural shapes outdoors. Recording experimental data is number writing practice without focusing on the writing aspect. An engaging science experiment can be a fantastic way to stimulate a piece of writing too.

Science doesn’t have to sit on it’s own separately from everything else. It can be used to inspire Maths and Literacy activities, making the learning relevant to real life situations which helps keep a high level of engagement.

School is also perfect for working together to solve problems, sharing and testing ideas, presenting the results as a team and children learning from each other.


STEM – Robot Mouse Activity Set

Want to get your little ones involved in some STEM learning activities? Check out these 5 STEM activities to try at home! You can also visit our free activity sheets page to discover free STEM worksheets, helping your child experiment and explore.

A note from me

As a parent who does a lot of science activities at home, I’ve found them a wonderful way to spend quality time with my children. It’s not unusual for them to come up with a better solution to a problem than me!  If you haven’t tried science at home, do it, you might be surprised how much fun it can be.



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