Children are naturally inquisitive and motivated to solve problems. When provided with the environment to actively learn, children make decisions for themselves, learn from making mistakes and develop strategies to deal with problems that arise.
The use of simple tools in this activity such as hammers, wheels and elastic bands supports children’s cognitive development. Children are able to observe the tools being used, experiment with them and learn from the fundamental cause and effect. Handling these types of tools also provides development for children’s fine motor skills; learning to use smaller muscles in the hands, fingers and wrists.
“Children used drills with adult support, used screwdrivers and hammers independently and practiced their fine motor skills as they put together component parts for their cars,” explained Maria.
Activities like this are important for young learners to really understand how things work in the world. Children are able to comprehend the notion of going from small component parts to creating something they identify and can then talk about,
“There was enthusiasm and motivation for the testing stage and the predicting of whose car could go further. Some children understood that the more they wound it up, the further it would go, so they were starting to use higher order thinking and application skills.”
An additional benefit of STEAM education in the early years is its ability to promote the use of more advanced vocabulary.
“The children learned technical language around cars such as ‘body’ and ‘axle’. It was superb to see children with new and emerging vocabulary, starting to understand and use more complex language.”
It’s important to note that as STEAM activities are inherently hands-on and exploration based they can also provide invaluable opportunities for dual language learners to build confidence and become actively involved.
STEAM Co-ordinator here at BIS HCMC, Mr James Chandler provides his thoughts on the importance of these opportunities in early years education,
“By exploring and developing STEAM skills at such a young age, we are nurturing key attributes such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and perseverance and allowing our young learners to really understand how things work. Children begin to learn that from the use of materials and tools, we can design and create things that better enhance the world that we live in.”