Every career that involves science, technology, engineering, or math is a STEM career field. Industries in the STEM fields are growing at a 12-18% rate year after year, while non-STEM fields average 9.8% growth. Our youth’s education now will directly influence how we as a society can innovate and adapt to the growing population and economy as time passes.
Finding STEM activities for kids is a fun way to engage them in learning valuable skills for the future while instilling in them the importance of these industries. With so much of our world happening online, a great starting place for students to learn about STEM is in the multitude of websites and games that encourage problem-solving and critical thinking.
Remind kids about the reasons that coding is important for their learning. Share the cool things they do every day with them that use the STEM education programs’ Technology side. Games like Minecraft and Prodigy Math Game and more were written and designed by people through coding languages.
STEM Activities for Technology: All Ages
Schools or parents can teach STEM skills to students of all ages. Knowing which direction they enjoy moving in the industry will help you find fun activities to keep them entertained and having fun while they learn. More activities are more specific to age, but age is just a suggestion in most cases. If your student is blasting through activities in their age range, bump them up.
TED-Ed is a series of short videos and guest speakers that you can find on YouTube or in various assemblies worldwide that make people think. There are several videos on various topics, and because they’re short and easy to watch, kids are usually entertained and engaged with them.
Here are a few of our favorite TED ed videos relating to kids and STEM topics. TED ed has hundreds of engaging videos for students and parents alike. Some videos may pique student’s interest from professionals in the fields they dream of pursuing. These videos are clever and engaging for kids of all ages.
- Prison Break | Think Like a Coder shares the technical problem solving and thought processes behind engineering and coding an entertaining but straightforward video game-like storyline.
- Cell vs. Virus: A Battle for Health outlines the science around viral infections and how our bodies react to such invasions in an easily understood animation. This opens the door to the curiosity of science-driven students.
- Can you solve the egg drop riddle? Builds on the classic engineering experiment to help students figure out the trial-and-error process of creating the perfect solution. Instead of the typical chicken’s egg from a high point, this posits the problem of a jewel thief trying to figure out the most valuable option to steal a precious artistic egg.
- Can you solve the bridge riddle? This video outlines a puzzle, how do you get all four members of your team across the bridge and safe from the zombies when you’re on a time limit, and each member of your team has different limitations. This uses critical thinking and mathematical processes to solve the problem.
Legos and Board Games
You can find tons of great off-screen coding games with Pinterest using Legos and similar blocks. Here are a few of the ones our kids enjoy.
- Team Cartwright – Coding for Beginners, outlines the basics of coding with Lego patterns. Teaching pattern recognition and building on those skills to teach how computers read code to understand letters.
- Lego Duplo Steam Engine Remote Control Kit gives your toddlers an introduction to pattern recognition and causes and effect in the model’s design and building
- Lego Education WeDo 2.0 Core Set is a set that allows students to build a variety of electric robots, learning about circuit building and the engineering of creating cars and robots that can move and react on their own through your assembly.
- Binary Alphabet Activities from Beanz Magazine structures fun activities teaching your kids how to read and write in binary code. This can be fun for sending messages to friends and family and can be done with Legos, beads, or other small pieces of craft materials.
- ThinkFun Robot Turtles STEM Toy and Coding Board Game are best for preschoolers or early elementary students. Most of the game is made up of illustrations, so even pre-readers can enjoy this game.
- ThinkFun Code Code Master Logic Game and STEM Toy is a board game designed to help children learn to think like a coder so that when they begin to code for web and app design, they already know the language.
- Code Monkey Island is a board game designed for families. I was created for 2-4 players and a 45 min playtime; this is a great game for family game night or “I’m bored” afternoons. It encourages and teaches concepts such as control structure, data structures, and several mathematical operations.Younger education students like to play to learn, making the lessons fun and easy to understand can create an almost subconscious understanding of the lesson’s content. Coding doesn’t need to be boring, even for kids who struggle to sit still.
Printables and Non-Computer Coding Games
- Hour of Code is a program that educators can participate in. There are one-hour tutorials available in over 45 languages. No one in the process, teachers or students, needs to have any coding experience before taking these classes
- Little Bins Little Hands offer a couple of computer-free game tutorials for learning coding algorithms. They are printable activities with full instructions and use the toys your children already have.
- Valentines Love Code in Binary, also from Little Bins Little Hands, is another fun way to teach kids about binary code and how computers can understand what it is that coders write.
- Carly and Adam are part of STEM Teachers Club, and they’ve published a three-part activity for learning to code stories. Step One is Intro to Unplugged Coding: Directional Coding
- Part Two of Carly and Adam’s activity is the Read Aloud Unplugged Coding Directional Coding piece. It comes with some printables to help kids wrap their minds around the concept of directionally coding a story to be retold in code.
- The final part of the activity from Carly and Adam is to Code a Story Unplugged Coding Activity. Students can write their own stories and code them how they learned from the activity’s previous steps.
- iGame Mom is a fun blog with lots of great activities for learning STEM skills. One of the most popular activities on the blog is their Coding Game for Critical Thinking. You follow a story-line and solve problems in the story.
- iGame Mom has another engaging activity, The Unplugged Coding Game, to help students learn to think about all the possibilities and double-check the work they’ve done. There’s a trope with coders about spending hours trying to fix a bug in the code; this activity helps your emerging coders avoid the trap.
- Teachers Pay Teachers has a ton of great printable for free or very inexpensive to use with your students. This fun printable works on the language aspects of coding and getting the student to think through a process very thoroughly. Coding a PB&J Sandwich is a fun way for students to learn to be super specific and troubleshoot the issues.
Outdoor Coding Games
Most parents hear coding games and assume it’ll require hours and hours in front of the computer or with their heads bent over their tablets. However, that isn’t the case. The whole family can play a few fun games with many children in your backyard or at the local park.
- The If-Then Backyard Coding game over at Left Brain Craft Brain creates a new version of Simon Says. One child is the programmer, while the others are computers. The coder will give an If-Then code command, and the computers respond to the order to move to the next step. The purpose of the format is to retrain the brain to speak the way coding is written
- Splash Zone is a game created and explained by Teach Your Kids Code. It uses sidewalk chalk and a water squirter. You draw out a 6×6 grid of about 18-inch squares. The programmer (Child) verbally speaks the commands to guide the robot (Parent or another child) to the Splash Zone
- Hopscotch Sequencing is also created by Teach Your Kids Code that teaches kids to think critically, work on algorithms, sequencing processes, debugging, and code loops.
Gadget Games and Activities
- Innovation Kids Lab helps students create a tablet or computer-controlled drawing bot through coding tutorials. This activity allows for some great creativity and creative processing. You and your family use linked blocks to create If-Then codes followed through on the tablet app
- Artie 3000 The Coding Robot is a fun and adorable robot to help you and your students learn the basics of coding and see a tangible result of each coding action. Aerie can draw images with your coding attempts. It’s recommended for children ages seven and older.
- Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar is a great tool to let kids explore how putting pieces of a puzzle together can change the outcome when you code. You can also purchase add-on pieces to the Code-a-Pillar to make more complex codes.
- POKONBOY Building Blocks Robot Kits for Kids to Build is a fascinating robotic build kit designed for kids 8-14 years. You can build and program the robot to move with a smartphone app controller.
Computer Games and Activities
- Osmo Starter Kit + Family Game Night is a tablet game app and associated tabletop game pieces. There is a base kit available too. The recommend age range is 6-10, but it’s not limited to that range. You can set this up to run on your iPad or Kindle Fire.
- Coding Apps are available for most systems. Check out Coding Safari, Kodable, Algorithm City, and Lego Boost for kids between 5 and 10 years old. Most popularly, they’re available for iOS and Android tablet systems.
- Games and apps can seem tedious for older kids, so we gathered a few apps aimed at older kids learning to code. You should check out Tynker, Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues, and Lightbot.It’s not always possible to put out activities and play. Still, it is always possible to put effort into learning and growing our knowledge through books, publications, and monthly activity subscriptions. As a bonus, we gathered a few of our favorites.
Creation Crate is an excellent monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or yearly subscription box built around learning to code with Arduino. Each month is a slightly more complex project, adding to your skills as you grow and produce. This subscription is best for teens or adults.
Steam Explorers is a digital magazine about coding and technology. It’s full of new activities and games each month with lessons and tasks to practice your new skills. Further, there are interviews and videos with STEM professionals. You can subscribe for less than $20/month and cancel at any time.
STEAM KIDS is an e-book full of a year worth of science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities to build your skills and interests.
Careers in STEM – Coding and Website Development
Today, computer sciences make up a large majority of our workforce. Everything from your favorite social media application to the computer programs you use to check your email and track your workflow is created from coding and computer sciences.
The job field is growing. While it is growing, while the numbers are different by source, they all agree that the increase in positions in the computer science industry will be drastic. Teaching our children to follow STEM career paths will put them in line for success, and financial stability, as career paths in STEM fields, pay higher than many other industries. STEM-trained individuals are typically paid higher, even if they’re not engaged in a STEM career.
IdeaMaker is a company in Southern California that specializes in computer sciences. It employs many software engineers, computer programmers, graphic designers, and more. We are the problem-solvers that work together with businesses, creators, and agencies to build programs that help people. Our innovation and critical thinking allow us to create the best programs to serve our client’s needs.
STEM education is crucial to building our children’s future to promote them into career fields that they enjoy, with wages that will sustain them, and utilize the new brilliant minds of youth to create solutions to keep up with our society’s growth.
The Importance of STEM Education in School Today
Our children are our future, and despite women making up over half of our population worldwide, only 28% of jobs in STEM fields are filled by women. Our current education system is burdened by traditional gendered roles and stereotypical ideas of ideal careers. Statistically, girls are pushed toward careers in teaching non STEM topics, clerical work, and other predominantly female-dominant fields.
Let’s work together to make STEM careers accessible and encouraged for children of all genders. It’s essential to educate our youth to follow paths that are primarily unpaved into their future. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Researching and pursuing the careers of STEM professionals will help keep kids focused. Having a great role model can be the difference between succeeding and being pushed into a more accessible job.
Some people to position as role models for your children are Radia Perlman, Joan Clarke, Susan Kare, and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. These women were pioneers in computer sciences and programming and made giant leaps toward advancing the technology we use every day. Elon Musk, Carl Sassenrath, Larry Page, and Guido Van Rassum are other computer science rockstars you may have heard more about.
If you and your children are interested in website development, computer sciences, coding, and programming, give these people’s biographies a read. Take a look at just how much impact STEM careers have on our way of living. Help your child take a look around to see what items and tools are computer-based that would be hard to function without in our current society.
And then, take a look at the Idea Maker website to understand the value computer sciences have for real people and real businesses. If you’ve got a project in mind, but aren’t sure how to code it, let us know, and we can help you figure out the best way to tackle your problem.