By: Sandy Spin Slade, President and Founder of Skillastics®
Children spend less than 20% of their waking hours in school; this opens the opportunity for increased learning in After School and Summer Programs. With an urgent need for improving Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills nationwide, and the growing trend of obesity in this country, After School programs have become an ideal environment to combine the two for an increased balance of learning.
Combining STEM and Physical Activity addresses two important educational goals – increase physical activity for optimum health and increase interest in STEM knowledge. Numerous studies have revealed three important parallels between STEM and Physical Activity.
First, an increase in STEM programming in After School programs help improve attitudes toward STEM. Similarly, introducing physical activities in After School that are fun and easy to implement increase a positive perception toward fitness and physical activity.
Second, After School Programs that highlight STEM have shown an increase in knowledge and skills and the environment to nurture interest. Likewise, those After School Programs that include daily physical activity that emphasize non-competitive, cooperative activities have gained more participation and a better understanding for the importance of being active every day.
Finally, After School that includes STEM increases the likelihood of children to graduate, stimulate interest and gain the necessary skills for STEM careers. Equally, After School Programs that include physical activities that promote lifelong health and wellness increase the likelihood for that child to remain active throughout their lifetime.
Mounting evidence has revealed that an increase in physical activity reduces stress, improves concentration and enhances academic performance. Introducing resources like STEM Skillastics® into your After School Program combines movement with STEM questioning to create a balance of learning in an atmosphere of fun. STEM Skillastics® includes 720 STEM question cards, (30 questions for each category, 120 questions total for each team) that are integrated into the Skillastics technique. This powerful resource for grades 3-6 can actively engage up to 100 students at one time! The simplicity in play allows line staff to easily involve a large group of children of varying ages and abilities, while simultaneously igniting an interest in STEM. A perfect fit.