Getting Started with STEM
What’s In An Acronym?
What are the benefits of including STEM related courses as part of a well-rounded homeschool education? It’s a fair question to ask, given that many homeschooling parents are perhaps familiar with the acronym, but not much else. Basically, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and STEM courses help to spark an interest in learning more about one (or all) of these disciplines.
So Many Choices
A quick web search on the term “STEM education for homeschoolers” will return a myriad of course offerings, covering a wide variety of subjects in those areas of study. For some parents, finding and selecting the ‘right’ STEM choices for their learners is relatively easy – especially if they themselves work in (or have been educated in) a STEM-related field or profession. However, what about homeschooling parents who aren’t necessarily engineers or scientists? How can one identify what makes up a ‘good’ STEM course that will benefit their learner?
All About Experiences
The first thing homeschooling parents should do when facing this issue is realize that, for homeschoolers, learning about STEM-related subjects is not much different than learning about non-STEM subjects. It’s very much an experience-based approach to studying science that is based on principles such as investigation and process, while taking advantage of tools and equipment that are normally available in most homes.
One popular example of applying STEM principles to common activities in the home can be found right in one’s kitchen. The activity? Baking. Being a successful baker is, in many ways, based on proper application of STEM principles. One needs to ensure that all requirements are met and processes followed, in order for the right chemical reactions to occur. Bakers need to apply their skills in mathematics to properly measure ingredients in the right proportions. In some cases, they will need to use scales and thermometers in order to properly measure weights and temperatures, all in order to reach the desired outcome.
Don’t Be Intimidated
In the end, it’s important to note that the steps involved with incorporating STEM concepts into a homeschool curriculum don’t have to be intimidating to non-STEM oriented parents. Thankfully, there are many STEM courses now available to homeschoolers (including quite a few at OTA, taught by experienced instructors) which cover almost all levels of ability, creating for learners (and their parents) an effective educational opportunity.
Jonathan Meola, co-founder and instructor at Open Tent Academy, attended the University of Miami, where he earned his B.A., and returned several years later to earn a graduate certification in Applied Quality Management, while helping to manage executive graduate degree programs for their business and engineering schools.
Professionally, Jonathan has worked as a technical consultant, managing enterprise software implementation projects for companies such as AT&T, Boeing, Discovery, Honda, Nestle, and several Federal agencies across the United States, and also worked on projects in Canada, Israel, and Mexico. He also has developed curricula for corporate training, and led sessions as an instructor on many occasions. Today, he resides with Eva in a small town outside of Jerusalem. Jonathan has three children, all of whom were homeschooled at one time or another. In his spare time, he loves traveling, reading, photography, analyzing politics, NCAA college football (Go Canes!), and cinema.
Other blog posts by Jonathan:
- Bridging the Gap – From Learning to Understanding
- Method to the Madness – Homeschooling Approaches
- Geography – More Than Just Maps
- Educational & Thinking Games
- Pareve Homeschooling
- Control and Choice
- Engagement + Experience = Enrichment