My STEM Units

Thursday, January 16, 2014

STEM@home: Science

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 last few weeks, we have been looking at the various aspects of STEM and how you can encourage your child at home.

What are you doing this weekend?

The kids have a 3-day weekend and you are probably itching to go somewhere.  Why not make it a Science Weekend!?

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, all 401 national parks and monuments will waive their entrance fee. 

Arizona is home to the following parks:

  • Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • Chiricahua National Monument
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area
  • Montezuma Castle National Monument
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Pipe Spring National Monument
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
  • Tonto National Monument
  • Tumacacori National Historical Park
  • Tuzigoot National Monument
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument
  • Wupatki National Monument

  • Most national parks and monuments offer a free Junior Ranger program.  The Junior Ranger program is a fun way for children to learn about the science of the national park.  Simply go to the ranger station or museum when you enter the park.  Notify a ranger that your child would like to be a junior ranger.  They will give you a booklet and a pencil.  Some activities require the child to sit still and observe nature; making drawings of the plants and animals they can see.  Some activities are like treasure hunts.  As you explore the park as a family, be looking for clues to the questions in the booklet.  When your child has completed the book, return it to the ranger station.  Some parks have a big pomp and circumstance and officially swear-in your child as Junior Ranger.  Some simply give your child a plastic ranger badge.  Either way, it's highly motivating to children. 

    Petrified Forest

    Petrified Forest is the closest national park to the White Mountains.  Even if you have visited there in the past, I encourage you to go again.  Petrified Forest recently received more land;  4,265 acres to be exact.  Researchers have found rare dinosaur fossils on the land and say it contains much more.  If going to the Petrified Forest, check out their Junior Ranger program online


    If you are interested in going a little further from home, Flagstaff is a great location.  Flagstaff is the gateway to the Grand Canyon.  It is also home to the Lowell Observatory.  They will be debuting a new event, called "Black Holes" on Saturday. 
    This exhibit was developed by educators and scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Its interactive stations address a number of questions, such as: What is a black hole? Where are black holes? How do we find black holes if they are really black? What would happen if you fell into a black hole?

     You can help your student gain more background knowledge in Science by doing activities at home.  This weekend, how about going outside to learn more about Science; together. 

    STEM@home is a series focusing on bring STEM activities into your home.  Read on and experience STEM@home today:

    STEM@home: Science - Watching Science on TV
    STEM@home: Science - Exploring national parks
    STEM@home: Technology - Using apps to support your child
    STEM@home: Engineering- Using Legos, K'Nex, and GoldieBlox to design solutions to common problems
    STEM@home: Math - Playing dice and card games to support math skills

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