Every Saturday I attempt to write about some sort of STEM related activity in the hopes that I’ll give you, my fantastic readers, ideas for fun ways to teach your children about these crucial subjects. I’ve covered concepts such as centrifugal force and Newton’s laws of motion. I’ve done projects that require a bit of forethought, such as when we made our own robots, and I’ve done projects that can be done on the fly, like our talks about gravity. No doubt, we’ve made an effort to connect with STEM subjects in our day to day lives. One might get the impression that I’m good at STEM subjects, or that I at least have a basic understanding of STEM subjects.
If you assumed that then I apologize for misleading you, allow me to set the record straight: I suck at STEM.
It is true. Compared to my classmates in school I was merely average at math and science, below average in technology. Engineering wasn’t something that was even covered at the public schools I attended.
I received decent grades not because I had a natural understanding of these subjects but because I was willing to work twice as hard as my peers in order to get a basic grasp of the subject. The same is still true today. I spend hours pouring over materials so that I can give my son a 20 minute lesson in coding or fractions. I bend over backwards re-teaching myself things that I haven’t used in years (or things I was never taught at all) in an effort to make sure that he gets the information he needs to do the things he is interested in.
I absolutely suck at STEM. But my son doesn’t.
My 5 year old son, who would be in kindergarten if he attended public school, is working at a 1st grade level in math, a 2nd grade level in technology, and a 3rd grade level in science. He has a natural interest and pull towards STEM subjects. I don’t have to force him nor pressure him towards STEM, if anything he pulls me along and lets me know what he wants to learn so I can study up enough to teach it to him.
Raising a child who enjoys and excels at STEM subjects is a daily victory in and of itself.
LittleMan is the type of child who likes to made predictions about why things work the way they do. He makes observations at the zoo about animal anatomy and then guesses what sort of diet and habitat that animal would have in the wild based on their teeth or leg-shape.
He also loves making “inventions,” which at his age are quite simple but I have confidence they will grow more complex with time. This invention he calls his “PopCorn Cooler-Downer,” he balances a piece of fresh, hot popcorn on it and blows on it until it is cool, then he can eat that piece. He made this so he wouldn’t have to worry about burning his fingers by holding the popcorn in his hand each time he blew on a piece to cool it off.
Recently we discovered that LittleMan is able to do math in his head. As someone who still has to count on their fingers, I was overwhelmingly impressed and proud at this child standing before me who taught himself something that I’ve never been able to master.
But that doesn’t mean it is without struggles.
When you suck at STEM, failed science projects are harder to explain. I like to turn it around on LittleMan and see if he can figure out what I did wrong. This becomes another opportunity for him to shine, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel crappy about it.
Even with the easiest of science projects, you think you’ve got everything under control and you’re going to be the “cool mom” for setting this up, it never works out. A squirrel inevitably comes to poop all over it.
When you suck at STEM, you worry constantly that maybe you aren’t the best person to be teaching your child. I frequently have to sit down and remind myself that LittleMan is still doing better than he would be doing at the elementary school down the road. I take solace in the fact when these subjects become too difficult for me to teach him, I can always enroll him in a homeschool co-op class or online class so that he can still get the education he needs.
For more hands-on STEM exploration check out our STEM Saturday Pinterest Board!
Follow Sarah McClelland’s board Science Experiments for Kids on Pinterest.
Link up your STEM projects below!