Written by IEEE | November 2, 2020 | Updated: October 29, 2020
Finding ways to keep your kids entertained at home can be a tricky assignment for any parent; especially when we want our kids to have fun and learn new things at the same time. Luckily, IEEE TryEngineering has a variety of virtual resources for children of all ages to explore and learn more about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics from the comfort of their home during virtual learning time.
“One of the ways parents can incorporate STEM is by doing fun activities with their kids, with everyday elements,” says IEEE Educational Activities Board Pre-University Education Coordinating Committee Chair Lorena Garcia. “This can jumpstart the imagination of kids, showing them that science not only belongs in laboratories, but that it is part of their daily life.”
TryEngineering has 130 free lesson plans for kids aged 4 to 18 available online. The plans are easy to teach virtually and most of the hands-on activities use easy to find household materials, such as rubber bands, paperclips or cardboard. These lesson plans also contain sharable student worksheets for parents and teachers to easily download and print.
“Each lesson plan is designed to be a complete roadmap that is easy to follow, no matter your familiarity with the topic,” says Garcia, an IEEE member. “We also created the Engineering Lesson Plan Toolkit, which includes an animated overview video on how to implement a lesson plan, an overview PowerPoint slide deck with step-by-step instructions on how to organize a teacher or student outreach event and how to best use the toolkit, PowerPoint slide decks and 2-3 minute animated videos for 15 of the most popular TryEngineering Lesson Plans.”
TryEngineering also specifically curated a variety of online activities to support teachers and parents who have their children enrolled in remote learning this semester. While these resources have always been available, keeping children educated and entertained during this unprecedented and challenging time has become even more important.
The goal is to expose children of all ages and backgrounds to engineering concepts early to spark their interest. The TryEngineering Together program was developed so children have the opportunity to interact with real engineers and establish mentor relationships.
“TryEngineering Together is a wonderful program that allows kids, especially from under-resourced communities, to directly connect with engineers and other professionals that will help them to get excited about STEM,” says Garcia. “The children have the opportunity to interact with their mentors, under a safe virtual environment, and discuss thought-provoking articles and other activities related to STEM subjects.”
“Through this, they reinforce the message that what they are learning today is applicable to solve real-life problems. This kind of exposure and personal interaction can help plant the seeds on them to become the next generation of engineers, scientists, and technical professionals.”
Looking forward, IEEE is developing a Pre-University Volunteer STEM Portal to inspire volunteers to share, give back and engage in STEM outreach. This centralized portal will provide volunteers access to plan and execute STEM-based activities.
“We want to leverage the reach of IEEE’s global communities and volunteers in order to engage as many students as possible in pre-university STEM activities.”