It’s time to “gear up” for some STEM learning in the block center! Children create and explore the motion of gears with these fascinating builders.
While the gears in our classroom were found at Costco (seriously, what CAN’T you find there?), there are many different styles “geared” for preschoolers. These are nice because they were brightly colored, sturdy, big enough for little hands to grasp, and they were on sale!
What is STEM?
STEM, sometimes seen as STEAM, is everywhere around us. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEAM adds the Arts in there as well. These acronyms mean more than just a grouping of related subjects, however. Both are from the same teaching philosophy that combines the subjects into a single cross-disciplinary program that gives students hands-on experience instead of rote learning and memorization.
STEM in the Early Childhood Education Setting
So, how does all of this relate to preschool-aged students? If you watch preschoolers, they are actually STEM experts. They love to create, experiment, and learn! When they count blocks as they build, they are combining mathematics with engineering. When they mix ingredients for play dough, they are incorporating science, math, and art. It’s all around them, but it is always beneficial to bring more STEM experiences into the classroom.
What Preschoolers Learn Working with Gears
Working with gears like these builds early STEM skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and perseverance. The little learner in this video is struggling to make his gear contraption work – the handle keeps falling off!
But, with a bit of creativity and grit, he discovers that by putting a handle in the middle of the construction, he can turn all the gears much more easily. The support he gets from his peer is impressive as well!
Gears for Building Cooperation
New materials always bring interest to existing centers in the classroom. This means students will likely end up working together. Using new materials also means learning new skills. Thankfully, preschoolers are often happy to share what they have learned with their peers. Working together builds social skills and empathy as well as STEM skills. These gears work the fine motor muscles, planning skills, critical thinking, and so much more!
This small group has built a large construction and put it into motion. They then need to figure out what is causing it to break. By working together, troubleshooting, and building off each other’s ideas, students learn to work as a team, just like an adult engineering team!
More STEM Ideas for the Classroom
Have fun playing and learning – and exploring STEM – with your children today!
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