Tag: STEAM

Anyone can be an Inventor!

“Necessity is the mother of invention, it is true, but its father is creativity, and knowledge is the midwife.” – Jonathan Schattke, scientist

Multiple Intelligences Theory creator Dr. Howard Gardner, defines intelligence as “the capacity to solve problems or make things that are valued by a culture.” AKA … Invention! And the process of inventing, according to world-recognized childhood education expert, Ellen Booth Church, “invites your child to use both critical thinking and two kinds of creative thinking — fluent and flexible.”

Ellen defines critical thinking as ‘the ability to mentally break an idea or problem into parts. Fluent thinking is the ability to brainstorm ideas’. And, ‘flexible thinking is the ability to see many possibilities, or view objects or situations in different ways.’

Children have naturally inventive brains and can make great inventors, because they have a key ingredient that adults tend to lack in comparison – unchained imagination and creativity. They take their own ideas, thoughts, interests, and do what they want to get to their ideal end product, or result. Think back to kindergarten or primary school and the crazy arts and crafts or science projects that would be made. Throughout school and growing up in general, we are taught to memorise formulas and take common approaches to problems, all in the same way. Children don’t have as much experience with this process. Instead, they simply follow their own ideas and intuition to solve a problem.

Our job as parents is to help encourage and support their inventive spirit. But how?

Encourage your child to build, create, and work on solutions that they believe in – instead of following the usual mould. Provide plenty of engaging materials, your attention, good open-ended questions and positive feedback on their efforts. Examples of great open-ended questions include: “What should we try next?”, “How else could you use this?”, “Is there a way we can make this even better?” Don’t forget you are their role-model. So, ‘narrating’ or talking through your approach to solving your own problems out loud will help model inventive thinking to your child.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is an understanding of their limitless potential. We can support this belief is by helping them become great critical and creative thinkers. In turn, this will help them to find solutions to problems they will encounter throughout their lives. In fact, the process of invention helps children develop skills that will help them work through difficulties in everyday life. Who knows…you might even raise your very own little inventor who could make a huge difference in the world! We can always use new, better methods, ideas and products.

Learn about awesome Aussie inventions HERE. 

Resources

My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook by Andrew Rae and Lisa Regan – From $18.24 

Genius Lego Inventions with Bricks You Already Have Book by Sarah Dees – From $25.05 

Tom Swift Inventors’ Academy Starter Pack (first four books in series) – from $43.25 

Engino Inventor 30 in 1 Models Motorised Set – $79.95. Get 15% off this price (and storewide) with code PakMag15 at www.engino.com.au

Engino Inventor 4 in 1 Models Cars – $19.9. Get 15% off this price (and storewide) with code PakMag15 at www.engino.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Science Week will Host Free Virtual Program

Restrictions due to COVID-19 can’t stop the National Science Week this year. For the first time, audiences can experience a FREE digitally-led program from August 15 to 23. You can access it through the Inspiring Australia Queensland (IAQ) website. Minds of all ages will be wowed by the virtual panel discussions. Overall, all of the discussions are designed to inspire an interest in STEM, learning, conversation and action. All students, adults, families and more are welcome!  In addition there will be virtual tours, other online events, DIY science and more. 

The theme for the festival is ‘Future Earth’ and it will take a look at what lies ahead for humanity and science. It will also look at how far science has already taken us. But, most importantly, it will explore how we can collectively create a bright and sustainable future through science. This will mostly be done through interactive webinars, podcasts and even competitions. Plus, live stream panel events will include topics such as Pandemic Proofing, Factory of the Future and The Future is in Their Hands.

If you attend, you can witness panel discussions with some of the top STEM professionals in Queensland, including:

  • University of Queensland medical research teams
  • Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Hub (ARM)
  • Global Shapers community
  • Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp

“Each and every year, National Science Week excites and inspires our young people to explore science in many different ways and consider pursuing a science-based career,” says Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews MP.

“We know that around three-quarters of the jobs of the future will be in STEM-related fields, so there has never been a better time to encourage our children to explore these pathways.”

Get ready for the 15th of August! Visit the National Science Week website here. 

 

 

 

 

What is Gravity and Who Discovered it? – STEAM

Have your ever wondered what pulls you back to the ground when you jump, or why a ball always lands on the ground after you throw it? Well, the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton wondered about this too. Newton is famous for several incredible things however he is most well-known for creating the theory of universal gravity.

Around 1666, legend has it that after watching an apple fall from the tree, he realised that there had to be something pulling that apple to the ground and he wanted to understand what it was. Other scientists had thought about this before of course and had also made some great discoveries. Galileo discovered that dropping two objects from the same height would result in them hitting the ground at the same time, no matter their difference in weight. However, there can’t really be any air resistance. If you drop a feather and a bowling ball at the same time, the bowling ball will always hit the ground first… unless all the air is taken out of the room! This experiment shows that the force pulling the two objects to the ground is the same. To see this yourself, drop a half-filled water bottle and one empty water bottle, both the same size, from the same height. They will land on the ground at the same time.

Newton’s curiosity alongside his intelligence meant that after years of thinking about gravity, he developed some amazing new theories of his own. He even used maths to complete calculations on gravity that supported these theories. This math showed how invisible gravity worked and also provided a possible explanation as to the whole shape of our universe.

Newton’s Theories

Newton wrote that gravity was the force pulling two masses together and that it applied to objects of all sizes. The larger an object was, the more it attracted other objects. Up until this point, nobody could really explain how the orbits of the planets and moon worked…although they definitely tried and came up with some interesting ideas. Thanks to Newton, people began to understand that gravitational pull (or attraction) is the reason why planets orbit the Sun and don’t simply fly off into space. Even the Earth’s moon orbits Earth perfectly without being sling shotted into the galaxy! This, along with many other reasons, makes gravity extremely important to us and helps our world function the way it does.

Fun Fact

The moon’s surface gravity is weaker because it is not as massive as Earth and is only about 60% as dense. That’s why astronauts appear to bounce when they’re on the moon and why people weigh less on it. If you weigh 60 kilograms on Earth, you would weigh about 10 kilograms on the moon!

Understanding the Effects of Gravity

Gravity is a force that we feel and experience every single day of our lives. Although we cannot see gravity, we can see the effect it has. For example, it is what makes round objects roll down a hill and it is what makes a glass shatter when you drop it. Engino’s Inertia, Momentum, Kinetic and Potential Energy kit makes understanding gravity, as well as the basics of physics and mechanics, easy. You can construct different objects and witness yourself how gravity affects them, plus so much more.

Resources: 

You can find more fun gravity experiments here. 

Read more STEAM blogs here. 

Learn about Isaac Newton’s life and scientific discoveries with this awesome book. 

Engino’s Inertia, Momentum, Kinetic and Potential Energy – Get 15% OFF WITH CODE PakMag15

 

 

Family STEAM-Powered Fun!

Get the whole family involved and help your children develop a love of STEAM with a family STEAM challenge night! The family can be split into teams to compete. Or, go head to head as individuals in a series of fun challenges. They won’t even know they are learning!

Children often need to learn through doing. They need to  see with their own eyes how things work as they discover the world. Activities encouraging playing, building and designing are fun. But, they’re also educational tools that can go far beyond the classroom. Plus, they give the family a way to bond and spend some extra time together.

All challenges are really just lessons in disguise. For example, if you have a challenge to see which person’s paper plane can fly the furthest, you’re actually discovering the wonderful world of physics and aerodynamics. By building the GraviTrax STEM Activity set, you’re not only having to work out how to build the tracks, you’re also learning about the power of gravity. For a really fun race, try and build the Engino STEM Hero Automotives and see which ones can go the fastest (use code PakMag15 for 15% off!). You could even get into teams and time who can build their model the fastest.

It’s a great idea to take a few minutes after the fun challenges to explore the important questions. These include what, how and why. What is gravity and why does it exist? How does it make the GraviTrax set work? How does gravity affect our everyday lives?

The Lessons in Mistakes

Allowing for failure is also an important part of STEAM challenges. When things go wrong, children learn from the mistakes made. From there, they build up better skills to problem solve. They can learn to think critically about how they can complete a challenge more effectively. We all know that there’s no better way to motivate someone than get them involved in a competition that they want to win. It’s important to redirect children to figuring out why something didn’t work and then how they can improve it. It’s very beneficial for them to experience failure so that they can adjust to disappointment. That might sound like a negative thing. It’s actually a great thing! It helps children to learn that there are challenges and roadblocks in life. More importantly, it helps them learn that these challenges can be overcome with brain power.

The Lessons in Teamwork

Activities and challenges that require teamwork are an amazing way to familiarise children with sharing ideas, knowledge and the concept of workload. It’s important that children learn how to adapt to working alongside others. It’s even more important that they learn just how amazing teamwork can be. Teamwork can often solve problems faster and/or more efficiently because each person brings different expertise and personal strengths. The world’s teams of engineers, builders, astrophysicists, doctors and so much more, have made some of the most amazing discoveries and structures ever… together.

The Variety of Methods

Family STEAM challenges are the best way to combine a variety of learning methods with having fun. They give children the opportunity to solve problems in unique ways, using all subject areas of STEAM. Through trial and error, taking risks and thinking outside of the box, children go beyond applying a memorised method or known solution to a specific problem, and create their own. By avoiding the ‘step by step’ approach to problem solving, they can get creative and take control of their own learning, all while it just feels like a fun game.

For great educational resources you can buy the ‘100 Easy STEAM Activities’ book by Andrea Scalzo Yi and the STEAM Powered Kids Kitchen Science set from entropy. Both are perfect for kids and the Kitchen Science set contains over 30 science experiments that can be done with everyday materials.

We hope you and your family have some great family STEAM fun together. 

Some Fun Family STEAM Challenge Ideas 

Who can build a boat that can hold the most weight in coins?

You can use 10 or 20 cent coins for this challenge. All you’ll need is tin foil, the coins and a bowl of water. Give everyone the same amount of tin foil and see who can build a boat from the foil that can hold the most amount of coins in water without sinking. Either get into teams or try the challenge individually. To step the n minutes for everyone to make their boat.

Tip: Once you’ve found a winner, take the challenge up a notch. Use a timer and only allow five or 10 minutes to build the boat. Try and see how many coins it takes to truly sink the boat. It might be more than you think!

Who can build the tallest sculpture?

For this challenge you’ll need plastic cups, measuring tape, popsicle sticks, glue or tape, and something to time with (optional). Lay all the materials out for the teams or each person. Then get building! You can set a timer to make it more competitive. The goal is to see who can build the tallest sculpture. The more creative you get, the better. Only the materials provided can be used.

Tip: If you want to make it even more challenging, try not using any glue or tape to hold the materials together.

Who can build the tallest tower that can hold a tennis ball?

Plastic straws, tape, a tennis ball and something to time with (optional) are all that’s needed for this challenge. Give every team or individual person the same amount of materials, then try and build a tower that is strong enough to hold the ball on top of it. Use the time limit to make it a fun race. This challenge is great for getting those critical thinking skills used, as the materials don’t make it easy to create a shape that can support the ball.

Tip: This challenge may be too difficult for younger children. If so, you can try use something lighter than a tennis ball. It doesn’t even need to be a sports ball; any small round object could work!

See who can build a paper plane that will fly the longest distance

Get some paper, preferably A4, measuring tape and a clear space (inside) ready for this challenge. The most basic version of the paper plane is easy to make: Fold the paper in half vertically. Open it back up and fold the top two corners in to meet the centre line, so it looks like a triangle on top of a square. Fold the top corners inwards once more and then fold these ‘wings’ backwards. Mark a starting point and have everyone throw their paper planes from there, using a measuring tape to see which pane went the furthest.

Tip: There are plenty of tutorials online for paper planes, from simple to complicated designs. Everyone can get creative and see which ones work the best for distance.

The maze race

Clear a table for this race and create a maze on top of it with blocks (or you can use whatever materials around the house that work best). Blow through a straw and see who can push their marble through the maze the fastest. You can even add little challenges like small homemade ramps and tunnels. This challenge works great for teams – the bigger the table, the more teamwork comes in handy. Place team members at separate places around the table, so that they can help out the other person(s).

 

 

STEAM – Why Our Ocean’s Health Is So Important

If the Earth had no water then there would be no life on it. All of us need water, including all plants and animals, making it one of the most important things that we have. We need fresh water to drink and keep our bodies functioning properly – even plants need to drink water to stay alive. But, it’s also such a huge part of our daily lives in many other ways; we need water for cooking, washing our bodies, clothes and dishes. We also need it for our farms and recreation (a swimming pool would just be a hole in the ground without it).

Our salt water oceans are just as, if not more important. They cover 72 percent of the Earth and supply more than half the oxygen we breathe and absorb much more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere does. The oceans help regulate our weather patterns and climate, including the temperatures and how much rainfall we have.

The ocean is our planet’s life support system. A healthier ocean means a healthier planet and a healthier life and future for us all…but, it’s in danger. More than 40 percent of the ocean has been severely affected by global climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, invasive species and decreases in ocean fish stocks. This has led to a loss of jobs, food and environmental services.

To keep our oceans clean and healthy, we need to take better care of it and protect it from the threats it faces. Pollution and the impact of fishing needs to be reduced. Protection areas for marine life needs to be created and we need to work together to spread awareness.

The ocean’s health is our health- let’s look after it.

Resources to Inspire and Educate

The Big Book of the Blue by Yuval Zommer

Not only does this book bring the underwater animals to life with beautiful illustrations, it explains how they survive underwater and the different families they belong to. It also dives into the things that put these animals in danger and how everyone can do their part to help save sea life. It’s perfect for inspiring young readers to be passionate about protecting such a vital part of our world.

National Geographic Kids 

The National Geographic Kids website has an abundance of quizzes, facts, figures and more. You can learn the wonders of the oceans, including the amazing life that exists in them. But most importantly you can also learn how plastic pollution is harming the marine life. The information is fun and educational, making it a great platform for getting the important messages across to children. Do a search for “ocean” from the home page and enjoy!

Learn How to Craft a Coral Reef in Minecraft 

Coral reefs can be found all over the world and one of the many parts of the ocean ecosystem. This awesome, educational edition of Minecraft shows you how to code and design your very own reef. You can learn about different types there are and how complex and beautiful they can be. Plus you gain an understanding of what can be done to help save them. Combining games with learning has never been so fun!

Engino STEM Hero Sea Exploration Kit 

Includes parts to build five models with online 3D building instructions, a 44 page book to learn about history of sea exploration, boats, nautical travelling, tools of navigation and principles of floating plus access to online experiments and a quiz! 

$119.95 .Get 15% OFF this price at www.engino.com.au by using code PakMag15

STEAM Activities to Develop and Harness Critical Thinking

Want to help grow a ‘solution finder’ in your household? STEAM activities are perfect for using learners’ critical thinking abilities. They help them develop problem solving skills to last throughout life. Teaching critical thinking simply means that children are being taught to really think instead of memorising actions and facts. STEAM education focuses on real-word, hands-on learning. In doing this, it helps develop skills for solving problems. It teaches critical thinking by encouraging the use of different knowledge and approaches. Often, this is through the process of trial and error. Most importantly, these skills are not only useful for careers, but everyday life too.

Good critical thinking encourages a child to ask questions like “why?”, “how?” and “what?”. It’s about not taking things at face value, but using curiosity to look further into all sides of an issue. An in-depth look into an issue means you can make a better judgement on it, resulting in a better solution. The more ‘outside of the box’ thinking that is done then the more connections are made and ideas created. Using a variety of skills and knowledge for problem solving means children are more likely to test their own limits in a healthy way.  At the same time they are also more likely to use this way of thinking for a better creative approach. 

Both critical thinking and being creative lead to great innovation skills. Innovative thinkers are the people who challenge standards and help change the world, which makes it a very important thing! Imagine how different our lives would be without all the inventions, new products and processes that have been made to make our lives easier. STEAM activities encourage independent thought. They inspire your children to grow up and become an ‘Ideas-Person’ … a critical thinker!

Resources to Inspire and Educate

The Jame Dyson Foundation Challenge Cards – The challenge cards are perfect for getting kids to think hard, be creative and have fun. By using unique challenges like making a functional chair out of cardboard, they create a whole new way of learning. This is done by hands-on, competitive activities. Made to get young minds excited about engineering, they help children develop a basic level of understanding around structures and how they work. You can use the cards both at home or in the classroom.

Little Bins for Little Hands – This website uses both simple science and fun to engage children in STEM education. It includes 100 activities, from science experiments to small building projects. The goal is to help children learn about basic science and structures. You don’t need fancy equipment or difficult activities that cause confusion – just curiosity and basic supplies!

Wabisabi Learning – 36 Resources for STEM Project-Based Learning Activities – Discover 36 resources for project-based learning, broken down into each STEM subject. These can be adjusted for different age groups. They will have kids broadening their ideas and using critical thinking. They allow children to learn in an enjoyable way while also helping them to understand how the STEM subjects can be used in the ‘real world’. 

 

Academy Of STEAM Solar Helicopter by Engino – $49.95 (Get 10% OFF at www.engino.com.au by using code PakMag10)