STEM

I’ll be honest, the biggest fear I had years ago when I started homeschooling my kids was “how on earth am I going to teach Science?” I had no idea what to do, or how to even start. I had visions of crazy flames and graduated cylinders in my head. And Math? It has never ever been my strong suit. As we progressed in our studies and my planning, the projects and activities just magically flowed and became less daunting and scary for me to tackle.

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STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than just teaching the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.

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Once I viewed Science as well as the rest of STEM in the application of everyday life, it became less of something that had to be incorporated and more of a fun learning experience. And one that didn’t always have to require lab coats and beakers!

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Now, that’s not to say we don’t ever have to wear protective gear! Some of the experiment kits we purchase do have chemicals and materials that need to be handled properly and protective measures be taken.

My children are at an age where they understand the consequences of messing around and not thoroughly reading directions and following them.

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No, they aren’t perfect and they do mess up at times, but I have more confidence in them to take on projects without having to hover like a helicopter the entire time!

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Covering Science for the day doesn’t always mean experimental projects either. A fun puzzle like this solar system one is a great activity, or some engineering by doing woodwork could also count.

In the kitchen baking or cooking is a perfect example of the everyday application of STEM in real life. Measuring, temperature, time, onserving changes in matter. Hey, and you get cookies! Haha

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Being in nature is a big one for us. We do like to spend a lot of time outdoors, so why not bring Science into the mix? We do that with gardening and all the surprises that come with it. Watching things grow from seed. Tracking the seasonal changes and weather and best conditions for certain plants. Along with all the creatures that grace our garden and give us an impromptu Science lesson to research.

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Art is always big for us, and nature journaling is a fun way to incorporate Science and Art in our day. Sometimes we research different creatures and the kids are asked to document their habitat, country of origin, species classification, diet, and any other interesting traits.

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A Phenology Wheel is a circular journal or calendar that encourages a routine of Earth observation where you live. In the Phenology Wheel, we track seasonal changes and journal about how the plants respond to weather and climate in drawings and paint. They turn out beautiful and can many times be collected as art to look back at and see the changes throughout the year.

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The books, kits and supplies we get tend to be low cost, because my frugal self is not about to spend a tons of money when it’s not necessary! I tend to purchase said kits when I find them on sale at Target, Micheals and every so often I will find them and Half Price Books. A lot of supplies can be found around your home, so also recycle and repurpose whatever you can.

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I purchase many Science kits and supplies from Target, Michael’s or Amazon when they have deals or added discounts – I will stock up on a few kits and keep them tucked away for future use.  Book companies like Usborne are also a great resource to get STEM workbooks and they have great projects tied into lessons as well. They also carry really colorful and engaging reference books we keep on hand because we can’t always rely on Google, and I want my kids to know you can look through a book to find information. 

When we get the chance, venturing out to museums, gardens, special exhibits or centers is always fun. Many of them offer free or low cost Homeschool days as well.

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We also enjoy fun shows that incorporate STEM topics including:

The White Rabbit Project

Mythbusters and Mythbusters Jr.

How It’s Made

Planet Earth

Hidden Kingdoms

Mystery Doug

BBC Nature

I hope some of these tips or resources help you feel more at ease while you’re preparing your yearly Science curriculum!

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