By Sabrina Rehman B Eng.
STEM or STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) is more than a buzz word, it is naturally a part of a child’s development. We may not realize how much our children already know about ecology, geology, chemistry, physics and astronomy simply by exploring the world around them. A STEAM-rich environment is the perfect catalyst to enhance your child’s innate love of learning.
What do you need to get your child started on this STEAM train? Likely nothing more than what you already have around you! There are no specific tools, products or rules. Simple things around you can be opportunities for tangible STEM explorations with your little one. The best thing is to stand back, maybe ask questions along the way and let your child lead, explore, discover, observe and experiment!
This winter one of my favorite backyard activities with my preschool-age twins has been creating a snow volcano – a simple twist on a classic science experiment! If you don’t have snow, try it in a sandbox or at the beach!
What to bring?
- Small plastic bowl
- Dish soap
- White vinegar
- Food coloring or liquid water colors
- Baking soda
How to create the Snow Volcano?
- Make a snow mountain by gathering a big pile of snow
- Place a plastic bowl or bottle into the top of the pile
- Fill the bowl with vinegar, a little dish soap and food coloring
- Add a full tablespoon of baking soda and mix
Stand back and observe the colorful “lava” flow out of your Snow Volcano!
Ideas to enrich the experience:
- Try with sparkles mixed into the food coloring for a dazzling effect!
- Use warm vinegar (heat speeds up chemical reactions) or change the amount of baking soda. Ask your child guess the size of the eruption (bigger or smaller) and let her test the hypothesis.
- Discuss real volcanoes. Did you know that in Iceland there are active volcanoes under ice and snow? When the hot lava of these volcanoes erupts to meet the cold ice, steam can be seen hissing high into the air!