STEaMs

Is an acronym, in our little jargon world of acronyms, for Science, Technology, Engineering, a very little a for art (just a token), and Maths…

Today I heard it called what it really is, “job training”, readying our kids for those jobs of the future. It has become a buzz word, something your kid needs extra to school where it is now ‘missing’ due to other demands for the three Rs. Poor teachers with their competing masters.

How I know Helena is managing her STEaM quotient is by watching her play. It infuses everything she does. Every time she has to test anything out, has to try anything a different way, I can see her posing questions to her self then trying to answer them by testing. She tells me her ideas about using sea weed instead of glad wrap, then I have to tidy up the evidence weeks later when the project has been forgotten. Every time she comes home dirty I can once again see she has been immersing her self in understanding the qualities of various materials. The potions. Her grasp on physics is fabulous and exercised every day with her body, her scooter tricks, her marble runs… all stuff that stops being fun at 7 (and 13 for me) when it’s turned into top down lectures of stuff people already know rather than stories and play. I haven’t forgotten what practicing that little ‘a’ can do -it’s how I knew Helena was thinking complex mathematical ideas at 4.

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STEaM is play. That’s all, and that is what kids do. I think STEaM has been elevated because people fear it, don’t think they understand, think it’s something outside the normal stuff people do and what I don’t want Helena to believe is that STEaM is anything different to what she does. I don’t want her to loose this when a topic gets overloaded with correct answers and having to know other people’s concepts. I want her to deeply understand the philosophy, that she IS practicing the scientific method, that the process is so important and more so than any outcome that is already known. They are practical disciplines not just intellectual. I want her scatterlogical approach. I want her questions to be bigger than she can answer. I enjoy her predictions. If she starts to believe that science, or engineering, or maths are narrow prescribed disciplines how will she remain creative? I want her to believe she is a scientist because she is, an engineer when she is, and that maths is just a way of talking. I love her creativity it’s important to her and an essential part of her personality but creativity can so easily be lost.

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Currently Helena reads an encyclopedia as it should be read, as a doorway to more questions, as ideas to browse rather than facts to learn. Answers are so often a let down unless they provide more questions. Answers are boring. If she was to know the fact that gravity makes objects fall at the same rate regardless of their mass how much less will be the fun of finding out, or the fun of making stories up about it, or maybe she is just chucking stuff out of the tree… it’s not really any of my business to interfere.

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I am confident that should Helena find that some aspect of STEaM is her thing she will attack it, and attack it in a more logical obsessive way. That she will want to know the facts and the facts will make her ask more questions and she will want to quantify this, and define the edges but I am not deciding what this thing is for her. I will model my small obsessions, my funny experiments (I once shaved one armpit for months doing smell tests) and I’ll bring home books I find interesting, and just let her be creative. I will give her the appropriate vocabulary when it comes up, or we’ll look it up together. I will give her opportunities, museums, exhibitions, new play environments where she can ask questions of herself of a STEMs nature but I will not send her to a STEaMs class unless she asks (she won’t, she hates constraints). I love STEAM stuff it’s essential to my play and hers we do some everyday.

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