This post is sponsored by Ward’s World
Since online school began, I’ve been checking in on my middle school students. They haven’t been shy about telling me how they are, how their online classes are going, and the best and worst parts of learning at home. Even kids who didn’t love school find themselves missing interactions with friends and teachers during the school day while others miss face to face instruction and hands on learning.
According to my 8th graders, the hardest subjects to learn online are math and science. The content may be interesting but there are times when they feel unmotivated and unfocused outside the classroom where they lack the regular teacher interaction they’re used to.
Tips for Keeping Teens Engaged in Science at Home
One of the challenges for us parents is keeping teens in engaged in science at home. We know that middle school years are critical for maintaining interest in STEM subjects but how do we do that while managing everything else right now?
Here are a few tips for keeping teens engaged in science at home.
Ask Good Questions About What They’re Interested In
One of the best things about curious middle schoolers is their ability to search out the things they’re interested in. They’re quick to Google or find a YouTube video to satisfy their need for information but have you ever asked what they’re looking for?
Without making it seem like they’re in trouble for their search history, here are a few questions you can ask to better understand their interests:
- What gave you the idea to search for that?
- What have you found out?
- Why are you curious about that?
- What else would you like to learn
- How can we keep learning about this together?
Asking open ended questions demonstrates your interest, curiosity, and a desire to help them learn more.
Keep an Open Mind
STEM subjects are often scary to us parents because we come with our own baggage related to the subjects. I personally loved some subjects and despised others. I enjoyed biology. I loved the real world applications of physics, but never got the hang of balancing chemical equations!
It’s ok to not know about the biology, chemistry, physics, geology, or Earth science topic they’re interested in. Instead, seize the opportunity to have your teens help you learn more about their interests.
They might need your help finding out more about the topic, related ideas, or might need some financial backing to continue their exploration.
Know Where to Find Free Science Activities
Once you have a better idea of what your teen wants to learn about, you can help support their learning. Maybe they want to find out more or figure out how it relates to an overall concept.
There are no shortage of free resources that can continue to foster their interests and one of my new favorite sites is Ward’s World.
This new destination inspires science teachers with free classroom activities, how-to videos, tips, tricks, and resources that make teaching science easier! It’s also perfect for parents who are trying to keep teens engaged in science at home.
Organized by topic, the Ward’s World site is very easy to navigate. Teachers can quickly find classroom resources for biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and Earth science. Parents will appreciate the inspiring ideas and free downloadable activities for use at home.
It’s also full of other helpful posts including:
- 5 ways to teach robotics (and one way to get funding)
- Don’t read this if your school already has enough money
Provide Hands-On Learning to Foster Learning
Keeping teens engaged in science while at home goes beyond the online learning from their teachers. Finding meaningful hands on learning experiences that are aligned with their interests can be highly motivating and Ward’s Science can help.
For the last 150 years, Ward’s Science has been connecting science exploration to science innovation. Built around a spirit of science exploration, wonder, and innovation, Ward’s Science offers a wealth of products that support science learning on a myriad of topics.
Since my middle schooler loves to build, is an engineer at heart, and is fascinated by drones, Ward’s Science sent us Ward’s Essentials: Drones: STEM in the Sky.
As a teacher, I love that Drones: STEM in the Sky provides the ability for students to apply the engineering design process to real-world scenarios in small groups. Everything needed to explore unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) through simple machines and circuits comes in the kit. Learning is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.
The included teacher’s guide and student guide encourage students to think like engineers by engaging in a design process to get from problem A to solution B. They apply scientific methods and processes by using creativity and basic building materials to brainstorm, model, test, and improve their drone design.
Students employ the scientific method by taking quantitative measurements during the design and testing phases, including testing propellers for direction and force.
As a parent, I appreciate that Drones: STEM in the Sky provides a hands-on experience that gets my teen to think more about drones by making connections to today’s world.
My teen possesses important scientific knowledge and background information about drones. He’s helped build them before and knows they were once used primarily for military operations that were too dull or too dangerous for humans.
I love that the materials in the Drones: STEM in the Sky kit provided a hands-on engineering experience for my teen through the building experience. He also got to think about the practical application of drones by applying physics to calculate force of the propellers.
I appreciate that Drones: STEM in the Sky provides a meaningful learning at home experience that inspires teens while making teaching science easier. We know the application of drones is rapidly expanding in many areas.
Their use from recreation to the commercial and agricultural sectors makes them worth learning more about and materials from Ward’s Science can help.
For more information:
- Shop the Ward’s Science website (get 15% off with the code TECHSAVVY15)**
- Visit Ward’s World for learning at home resources
- Follow Ward’s Science on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest
This post was written in partnership with We Are Teachers. Ward’s Science sent us Drones: STEM in the Sky for review purposes and compensated me for this post but all opinions are my own and based on personal experience.
** TECHSAVVY15 discount offer valid on web only at wardsci.com. To activate offer, use promo code at checkout. Offer expires 6/30/20. Free shipping includes standard ground shipping only and excludes items with hazardous shipping; standard hazardous shipping fees will apply. Unless otherwise specified, contract discounts and special offers may not be applied to any item priced with a final digit of ‘9’ (i.e. $6.99; $10.09; $129.99.) Offer excludes Somso models due to custom nature of the product. Offer excludes all Triumph Board products. Promotional discounts also may not be combined with other offers, discounts, contracts, or promotions. For more details, visit wardsci.com/terms