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STEM Fever: Why Science Class is More Important Than Ever

Human Creativity in a Child

Human Creativity in a Child

 

It’s not always easy to get elementary school students interested in an abstract topic like science. Science is often seen as nothing more than worksheets, quizzes and the memorization of seemingly endless facts.

But what kids don’t realize is that behind all of the big words and tricky concepts is a living subject that affects everything they do. From playing soccer at recess to shopping for groceries with their parents, it’s impossible to escape it. And what’s more, in order to excel in today’s high-tech world, kids are going to need to be more science-savvy than the previous generation.

In the next decade, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs will grow by 17%. That’s three times the rate of non-STEM jobs, and with a higher rate of pay. Despite the opportunities, however, research has proven that youth are more disengaged than ever in STEM-focused classes.

So how can teachers give their students the opportunity to succeed in a scientific world?

 

Make science fun.

All too often, science is taught in a way that’s opposite to what it truly is. Science is about discovery. It’s about curiosity. It’s about opening our eyes to the world around us and seeing it in a new and exciting light. And yes, it’s about fun!

Fun is what makes science real. Without imaginative experimentation and the freedom to try, fail, and try again, science is just a set of known facts (and we all know that’s no fun).

But through hands-on, curriculum-based activities, kids can actually see science in motion and observe cause and effect as it plays out in the real world. This is one of the most engaging ways to learn, which means they’ll be more likely to actually remember the material and will be enthusiastic about learning more about the subject. And with this type of repeated exposure throughout the elementary school years, you’ll inspire a passion for science that’ll carry them through high school and beyond.

 

Science isn’t just for scientists

Not all children are destined to become marine biologists or mechanical engineers. And that’s okay, because the skills learned in class go way beyond the realm of science.

When students are engaged in scientific discovery, they’re actually learning creativity, collaboration and problem solving, and how to ask questions, make observations, analyze data and communicate their findings. These are real-world life and workplace skills that are necessary no matter what path is followed.

 

Creative ways to make science fun

There are a lot of things you can do in the classroom to make science enjoyable for students, but nothing is as inspiring and exciting as a flying a kite. While students are having fun outside with friends, they’ll be exploring everything from the physics of flight to the impact of weather. The topics are virtually endless, and the best part is that you can tailor them to suit all ages and interests.

Check out our science project ideas for inspiration, and if you’d like to know more using kites in the classroom, you can always contact us!

 

Image courtesy of epSos.de.

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4 (Nearly) Failproof Ways to Nurture a Child’s Natural Motivation

Innate Curiosity

Innate Curiosity

Every child is born with a natural sense of wonder and curiosity.

They have a need to understand the world around them, and explore, experiment and discover without even thinking about it. Just watch what they do with the boxes on Christmas Day, or with sticks, blankets, and whatever else they can get their hands on.

Sure, all of this curiosity can get a little messy, but it’s this intrinsic motivation that is the powerful force behind learning and achievement. It’s what enables children to become learners for life.

But the problem is that this fundamental requirement for learning is sometimes lost as children grow older. Although the world is still full of mysteries, kids often lose the desire to investigate it.

One of the biggest challenges for teachers today is to nurture this natural motivation and ignite the wonder of learning in all of their students. So the big question is: How do you keep the motivation alive?

 

Have fun!

Fun is serious business for kids. It’s said that play is the universal language of childhood, and it’s true. It’s how children understand each other and make sense of the world around them.

The good news is that children (and adults!) learn best when they’re having fun. Our brains are more active when we’re doing something we enjoy, and we also have a better chance of actually remembering what we learn.

 

A little mystery is a good thing

As a Wired article so eloquently put it:

Navigate the fine line between giving kids a taste of knowledge – the universe is not all mystery – while at the same time preserving a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty. Because it’s the not knowing – that tang of doubt and possibility – that keeps us playing with the world, eager to figure out how it works.

 

Let them explore and see the effects of their actions

Children are curious about cause and effect, and will do everything in their power to answer the “hows” and “whys” of the world. They’ll try this action or that, and keep on going until they meet (or get as close as possible to) their goal.

When children can actually see the results of their actions, it’s like having a never-ending reward. They’re more likely to keep exploring, evaluating and learning and to take the initiative to become independent learners.

 

Playful Child

 

Let them be active

Physical activity is one of the most natural ways to stimulate curiosity in children. Learning comes naturally when children are thoroughly engaged, and there’s nothing more engaging than play!

Play is all about active bodies and active minds. It brings every part of a child to life and does wonders for their imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities and physical and mental health. And, it actually makes learning easier!

The habits and attitudes formed during childhood last a lifetime, and set the stage for all future learning. That’s why it’s so important to support their motivation while they’re still young!

 

Are there any activities you’ve done that are a practical application of these ideas?

 

Our kite kits are a fun and affordable way to get children engaged in learning. Check out our project ideas for inspiration, and don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more!

 

Image courtesy of Wagner T. Cassimiro and Hammonton Photography, respectively.

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Healthy Bodies = Healthy Brains

Kid Superman

Kid Superman - physical activity is good for brain health

If you’ve ever watched kids playing in a park, you know that most are naturally active and love to move around.

But have you thought that all those hours spent flying kites and swinging on the monkey bars can be a child’s first steps towards better performance in the classroom?

It’s true! In addition to keeping kids healthy and strong, being active for just 60 minutes a day has been shown to:

  • Increase concentration and focus
  • Improve classroom attendance and behaviour
  • Boost academic performance

All that blood pumping to the brain makes it function at its best. It brings more oxygen to cells involved in learning and attention, and even increases levels of certain hormones that can improve mood and fight stress. But kids don’t need to know all of the technical details. For them, it’s fun, and that’s all that matters.

Despite the fact that physical activity is associated with better learners, many schools across North America are cutting back on traditional PE programs. Whether it’s because of budget cuts or pressures to improve academic test scores (a totally counterproductive approach), administrators are hanging on the dated idea that PE must take a backseat. These schools are losing out on not only the academic benefits, but also the social and behavioural benefits that go beyond good grades.

But this doesn’t mean physical activity is off the table. It just means you need to get creative!

 

Physical Activity in the Classroom

When it comes to getting active, there’s no better place than the classroom. After all, school is where kids spend the majority of their time.

Physical activity doesn’t have to happen in a gymnasium, though. Kids are kids, and play can happen anywhere. The more fresh air, the more imagination, the better! And if you can integrate your lesson plans with all of this fun, you’ll have a happier, healthier bunch of kids who won’t even know they’re learning.

If you’re stuck for creative ways to get your students moving, be sure to check out our project ideas. And if you’re having trouble working a big chunk of physical activity into your day, don’t worry. Shorter periods of activity are just as effective as a single session, and are way easier to fit in!

 

Let’s Move Campaign

By getting your students active in school you’re helping build a healthy foundation for life. But why stop there?

Your ongoing efforts in the classroom have the potential to change an entire generation. By joining First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, you’ll inspire students not only be more active, but also to eat better and grow up healthy. It’s easy to join, and they give you tons of resources to help you and your fellow teachers transform your school into a healthier environment.

 

 

Image courtesy of Lotus Carroll

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Creative Science Projects for 5th Graders

051313_7

Coming up with creative science projects isn’t easy.

Even when you think you have a winner, sometimes it’s actually a flop. That’s why we’re creating a list of teacher approved (and tested) projects for 5th grade science classes.

We’ve got you covered.

It’s never too late to help a child fall in love with science … it’s never too early either :D. We’ve been working our little hinnies off looking for amazing 5th grade science lessons. Of course kites are an excellent choice (shameless plug). And there are countless other creative lessons and projects that your kids will love.

We’re also reaching out to other teachers to share the goods, i.e. their best lessons (because in the end it’s all about the kids). If you have a lesson that has very nearly changed lives, please share it with us, and we’ll add it to our list. Only your best lesson or project.

Maybe you’re here because you’re tired of trying to come up with creative lessons out of a vacuum.

Maybe you’re here because you are an awesome teacher who is getting ready for next year.

Maybe you’re here because you need a supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus lesson for TOMORROW!

Regardless, of what brought you here we’re glad to have you.

As we build our list of creative 5th grade science project ideas we will add them to this page with links back to more detailed instructions and/or lesson plans if they’re necessary.

Finally, if you have any amazing science lessons for fifth graders (that the kids always love please share them with us).  We can’t wait to share them with everyone else.

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Why Kites Matter (and National Kite Month)

Beautifully creative kit design

Kites have been around for almost 2500 years.

An invention of ancient China, they have been used for activities as diverse as flying to measuring wind to military communication to just plain old fashioned fun.

You may or may not have heard that April is National Kite Month. Now you know 😛

If you watch the video (or just reminisce) this is the moment when Mary Poppins realizes that her work is done. The Banks family is embracing the joy of life, and spending time together again. Though there won’t be a movie soundtrack playing for you when you go out kiting, it is great fun.

And your kids will remember it forever … just like you do, if you’ve ever been kiting.

Kites are fun outdoor activities (that don’t even require a smart phone, TV, or screen).

Sometimes it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to get kids to have fun outside. It used to be a whole lot simpler (before video games, Netflix, smart phones, the Internet, etc.). These are all incredible inventions, but sometimes it’s nice to simplify and go outside and have fun at the park.

Kites are works of art.

Beautifully creative kit design

Most of us don’t have a massive Chinese dragon kite, but beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

Just about anything you can imagine can be represented on a kite. This is part of why we’ve always loved kites for art class.

Some activities are always fun

They’ve always been fun. And they always will be.

Running to achieve liftoff. Feeling the force of the wind. Watching the dance of the kite in the beautiful afternoon sky.

Life is for living. And when you’re out flying a kite that’s exactly what you’re doing.

For us, every month is kite month! But if you have a kite or haven’t flown one in a while, now is a great time to go fly a kite.