Many parents and educators are familiar with the term STEM, which is an acronym for “Science,” “Technology,” “Engineering” and “Mathematics.” These concepts are a foundational aspect of learning that helps students succeed across the board. STEM is designed to allow young people to gain real-world knowledge using these principles through hands-on applications and immersive experiences.
While studies show that early STEM exposure can be a predictor of future academic success, STEAM goes one step further. STEAM adds the arts into the mix and focuses on the innate curiosity of youngsters, cultivating their desire to explore, ask questions and solve different kinds of problems.
STEAM education can be formulated in numerous ways, including play. Play areas are excellent settings for STEAM education. When strategically designed, playgrounds can create opportunities to learn about the natural world, movement, critical thinking, building communication skills, and more.
Skills Children Learn From STEAM
STEAM-driven education and play also help with a child’s mental and physical development. STEAM skills that can be practiced in playgrounds are useful in helping students learn about various topics, including:
- Collaboration—Many components of STEAM rely on communication and contributions from others. When students talk and play together, they gain collaboration and communication skills.
- Language Development—Children can build and expand their vocabulary skills while playing with others and working through the various implements and challenges on playground equipment.
- Creativity—A primary part of STEAM encourages creative solutions when problem-solving, and a playground installation can include games and areas designed to help kids think outside the box.
With these goals in mind, there are several ways to include components of playground equipment that encourage these concepts.
Playground Ideas to Promote STEAM Learning
With well-thought-out playground structures, you can get youngsters engaged in STEAM through play with a variety of activities. Some elements to consider including in a play area project are corridors with mazes that lead to certain areas or even dead ends to encourage alternative thinking.
Classic playground elements like slides and merry-go-rounds can be complemented by specialty STEAM-inspired installations like labs, scavenger hunt areas, and dynamic moving mechanisms. Your experienced associate can recommend different additions depending on the STEAM areas you want to highlight. Just a few ideas to consider include the following target goals for a STEAM-based playground:
- Sensory Adaptation - Water tables, mirrors, textural elements, noisemakers and small plant installations near the equipment capture children’s interest and boost their senses of smell, sound, and sight.
- Engineering - Moving mechanisms like balls, wheels, levers, gears, spinners, and balls are fun, interactive elements that are ideal for imaginative play.
- Problem-Solving - Games like sliding puzzles and mazes help students improve and master their logical problem-solving skills.
- Physics - Discussing gravity on slides or the centrifugal force on merry-go-rounds or balanced spring riders allows a child’s mind to ponder physics concepts.
- Mathematics - Youngsters can compare their heights on jump panels, and tinker with an oversized abacus or giant calculator in the playground installation to engage their mathematical skills.
- Wildlife-Focused Installments - Animal and critter puzzles can aid kids in learning about animal anatomy, and sound panels can familiarize them with the typical sounds that wildlife makes.
Call May Recreation to Customize & Create Your STEAM Playground
May Recreation is a leader in designing and installing playground equipment in and around Houston, TX. We have inclusive elements and themed components that encourage STEAM learning and offer fun for children of all abilities. Contact us today to speak with one of our representatives and get a quote concerning designing the ideal STEAM playground for your school, park, or recreational area.