By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
Kids are naturally curious, so they'll dive into super cool books that teach through the fun of making with an emphasis on STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. It's the latest interpretation by educators of the acronym STEM to STEAM, adding art and design to the other four fundamentals to round out innovation and to power skill sets for the 21st century.
STEM Turns Into STEAM
Supporters of the educational concept say the intersection of the arts with STEM fields will enhance student engagement while strengthening creativity, problem-solving, focus, non-verbal skills, collaboration, perseverance, confidence and more. Just think of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, the ultimate Renaissance men with insatiable scientific curiosity, artistic talent, imagination and creativity.
Meet the STEAM Authors
Author Jack Challoner picked up some special insights working at the flagship interactive gallery, Launchpad, at London's Science Museum. Of course, he's a STEAM-roller: a science and math teacher who is also a singer, songwriter, and musician. Maker Lab books make lovely gifts in hardback at about 160 pages, published by Dorling Kindersley, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
An architect and industrial designer by trade, author Ana Dziengel has three children and plenty of experience in getting creative about making colorful DIY toys and projects at home. Another talented all-rounder, her photography graces the pages of her 2018 STEAM play and learn book to inspire preschoolers to go full steam ahead.
"Smithsonian Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects" by Jack Challoner
There's nothing like safe, hands-on learning. Build, invent, create, and discover with projects that require readily available household items. The target audience of kids from 8 to 12 years can work alone, in groups, or with adults to make a lemon battery, a jungle in a bottle, a soap-powered toy boat, and a personal supply of sticky slime. Snow days off from school will never be the same again. This book won the National Parenting Publication Award for its good ideas, clear and simple instructions, and great illustrations.
"Smithsonian Maker Lab: Outdoors: 25 Super Cool Projects" by Jack Challoner
Targeted at the same age group, children can create even more outdoors. The first book was such a hit that a second version was published to take the maker fun outside. Just like the complementary book, this one explains what you'll need to get set up and provides simple step-by-step instructions from start to finish. Why not suggest that kids help out in the garden by building their own butterfly feeder or wormery? Alternatively, would-be astronauts can build and launch a water rocket to understand all three of Newton's Laws of Motion
"STEAM Play & Learn: 20 Fun Step-By-Step Preschool Projects" by Ana Dziengel
To learn about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, younger children can get in on the maker fun, too. This book is like a preschooler's playground on the printed page. Enticing projects include citrus volcanoes, marble runs and mazes, sound tubes, egg carton geoboards and lots more, all divided into easy, medium, and more difficult sections. Older kids (and parents and grandparents as well) can join in the fun by gathering the materials together and setting them out. Grab some food coloring and an ice cube tray to get the kids started on creating frozen goop.
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