In today’s busy world of after-school activities, 24-hour news cycles and constant screen time, it’s more important than ever to find engaging ways to teach important skill sets for the new economy.
Jobs that will be most in demand will come from the “STEM” disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. And research shows that adding art elements to the STEM equation can bring positive results in learning development – and in the engagement that young learners have in these fields.
One activity that integrates all of these together is StickTogether®, a mosaic puzzle poster that allows collaborative, interactive learning. Each art kit allows creative collaboration in a fun environment for all ages and abilities.
According to the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning, educators and parents can nurture STEAM "by providing learning opportunities and materials that support exploration and discovery."
The Center said there is proof between “a positive relationship between early STEAM experiences and future success in schools.”
Here’s how projects like StickTogether can be used in these settings:
Finding Patterns in Science
Patterns exist nearly everywhere in nature and science, and children are programmed to identify them at a young age. As they look for these, they’re building curiosity that they’ll use for a lifetime.
Solving the patterns in any of the StickTogether kits is easy. Just use the key to match up the colored sticker with the corresponding letter. All of the “A” spaces require a black sticker. Then it’s on to the next letter and next color. Just follow the color key and watch the pattern emerge as you add more colors!
Technology for Everyone
Forget about screens and things that plug in for a second. Technology is more than the electronics that consume so much of our days. What it really means is any man-made item that we use to create something else, like pieces of a puzzle, or stickers in a StickTogether art mosaic.
Two teachers in Long Island said they were able to use StickTogether mosaics in their “Introduction to Computers” class. One concept that was often difficult to teach was the link between pixels and full images. Pixels, a portmanteau of pix (from pictures) and el (from elements), are the building blocks for digital images.
Students struggled to understand that the images they see on the screen are made up of smaller images. But when they started a StickTogether kit, students watched as the individual squares of color started to form patterns on the blank mosaic.
“Watching their eyes go wide once the ‘pixels took shape was simply remarkable,” they wrote.
When most people think of engineers, they think of structural or building engineers. However, there are dozens of disciplines that require this skill. At its heart, engineering is just creative problem solving. Biochemical engineers use different materials to design, craft and build their product than a civil engineer who might work on a public works project, but they’re both using critical thinking skills.
Think of one of the earliest ways kids experience this—with building blocks. They explore how to stack the squares most securely, and they group them by colors, numbers and letters.
The same is true when working on a StickTogether puzzle. They’ll work together to decide how to place stickers on the grid in the most efficient way.
Art is a chance for self-guided discovery and building self-esteem.
Kids can explore their senses as they watch their project come alive. Try different StickTogether projects to add the A in STEAM with a creativity bundle for different colors and patterns.
Geometry, sequencing and patterns—all skills that are building blocks for other math subjects—are part of the experience for StickTogether participants.
Whether they’re using a 40’’ x 36’’ poster with 3,996 stickers or the larger 60’’ x 36’’ grid with 7,040 adhesive color blocks, the squares will start as individual pieces. Then they begin to add up to the greater sum.
Putting it all together
Studies from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University showed that children who are participants in STEAM activities are also able to direct their own attention and problem-solving skills in the future.
Whether in the classroom or at home, using tools like StickTogether can bring about a positive boost in STEAM proficiency and interest for all ages.