Believe it or not, paper is a powerful STEM tool. In fact, most of my engineering design challenges use it as a key material along with other household supplies. The reason? Because STEM doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective. In more cases than not, there is just as much power in paper.
If done correctly, the power of paper can help teach STEM skills like:
- critical thinking
- iterative design
- problem solving
- team building
- creativity (yes, that’s a STEM skill)
- and the list goes on
Even though paper STEM creations may look simple, there is likely a great deal of engineering thought behind it. Those key engineering thoughts and design decisions are what help your kids learn and develop their STEM skills.
One way that you can propel that learning is to ask questions about the paper widget. Good questions to ask might be:
- What problem does this gadget solve?
- How is it supposed to work?
- Did you test it to see if it works like it should?
- (If so) What could you do to improve it?
- (If not) How could we get it to work?
- What other ideas might work to solve this problem?
Building STEM skills takes multiple interactions both at home and at school and leveraging the power of paper is a low-cost way for kids to experiment freely and take risks, while still experiencing and developing these skills.
Lane specializes in STEM curriculum design and professional development for K-12 stakeholders and enjoys making teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.