STEM at Home with STEMWerkz App
We’ve all heard about STEM/ STEAM/ STEMM, since these terms are being circulated quite a bit. It’s another matter when it comes to implementing them. That’s why I am excited to show you a new app great for kids as young as 5, which offers parents the opportunity to implement STEM at home.
I’m happy to have discovered STEMWerkz, an awesome app that makes STEM teaching and implementation at home a breeze. If you want a more traditional approach, you can read my Daily Science from Evan Moor review, to encourage question-asking and critical thinking by using a paper-based curriculum.
What’s this buzz around STEM/STEAM/STEMM
STEM is the most known and circulated term from the three, referring to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The other two spin-offs are STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) and STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine).
As you see, these all have some common elements. But why are these important?
It’s been reported that in a few years the demands for STEM fields and jobs will be of the order of millions and STEM employment has grown by over 79% in the last years (since 1990).
STEM demand is growing at a fast rate because it prepares children for a world where critical thinking is indispensable. It’s a blend of knowledge and skills that will shape the future through critical thinking, curious minds, passionate people that are solution-finders, innovators, and our future out-of-the-box thinkers.
In STEM, each branch develops different skills. All these skills together will shape a creative, innovative, and knowledgeable individual. This doesn’t apply solely to science or math fields, but in every other job that requires fast thinkers and solution finders.
STEM is more than knowledge fed directly to kids. It’s the opposite of rote-learning, encouraging:
- critical thinking
- lifelong learning
- hands-on learning
- collaborative work
- a mindset for tenacity, flexibility, and adaptability
While the way to apply STEM varies from school to school and country to country, parents can also help in the process of preparing their children (early on) for a future fast-paced world by implementing and encouraging a STEM environment at home.
In fact, the earlier you start encouraging STEM/STEAM thinking, the better prepared your child will be for future challenges.
That’s why apps like STEMWerkz are essential (and a real need worldwide) because they offer equal opportunities for quality education to children from all backgrounds.
STEMWerkz is meant for home or classroom use. It’s been developed to help parents and teachers add STEM to their children’s lives so that all of them have access to quality STEM education and develop skills necessary to keep up with a fast-moving world.
STEMWerkz has been developed with the help of educational experts in the STEM field from two continents, blending together knowledge and expertise from Singapore and USA.
“The STEMWerkz team envisions a world where students from around the world can qualify for any school they wish to attend. A world with boundless educational opportunities, where achievements and accolades are recognised by both local and international institutions. “–STEMWerkz
Implementing STEM at Home with STEMWerkz
Implementing STEM at home can be a challenge for many parents and homeschoolers. We simply don’t have enough time, available materials, or even knowledge on how to do that.
This is why I feel STEMWerkz is such an invaluable tool for parents and homeschoolers because it provides us with a simple solution: just use the app to spark curiosity to start a domino effect of questions and curiosities. These can easily be taken into real life and explored further.
See inside STEMWerkz
The app is suitable for children 5 to 12 and it is set up on different difficulty levels. I have to mention that there are some reading skills required because the tests and summaries aren’t read aloud to them. So make sure that they have help there if they need any.
I would also add that for the younger age group, children need to be really passionate about the subject because some younger kids might find this to be too difficult.
STEMWerkz works on Android or iOS. It also works on a computer, directly from the website. Please note that his app doesn’t work offline, you need to have an active internet connection for it to run.
STEMWerkz has a 7-day free trial so you can see inside the app yourself. If you like what you see, they offer monthly or yearly plans.
I love how flexible and interactive the lessons are and that the kids can choose from 3 ways (or zones) to explore STEMWerkz:
- STEMWerkz Quests
- STEAM Valley
- STEMWerkz Channel
They are in the process of adding a 4th zone, Werkz TV where kids can watch small documentaries on various topics. M liked playing the games and exploring everything.
Through STEMWerkz Quests, children can explore the concepts arranged in lesson formats, with a couple of short interactive animations followed by a summary of what they’ve learned, and a test.
Quests are set up as various explorations for learning. Each quest has a mission that will translate into a reward in their game mode, STEAM Valley.
The quests include review sections and testing before unlocking lessons and next levels.
The sections available are:
- Meadow Mission – which includes 5 topics covering living and nonliving, materials, body systems, plants, and magnets.
- Ocean Exploration – includes 4 topics in light, heat, life cycles, and matter
- Space Adventure – includes 4 topics in food and energy, energy, forces, and environment
- Arctic Expedition – includes 8 topics in reproduction, water, plants, body systems, and electricity
STEAM Valley is a build your own city type of simulator. By answering questions and exploring concepts you get coins to add new buildings to your city.
Children learn how to manage their resources and make decisions for their own virtual city. By answering questions and exploring science concepts, they can earn coins that allow them to upgrade their city.
The game mode starts with an introduction to STEAM Valley, run by a Mayor that wants to grow his city. But there’s also another candidate that seems to have a fixed mindset about how things should get done, which doesn’t get elected as mayor, and decides to wreak havoc in STEAM Valley as revenge.
Alpha, the lightbulb brain, who is the sidekick and Mayor’s helper, is present throughout the interface of STEMWerkz. Kids can activate some features of Alpha that make him float around the screen.
Kids also get daily coin rewards for logging in and there are various levels they can achieve. People around STEAM Valley will keep getting into trouble and need help with various tasks. For example, the factory ran out of light and kids were asked to learn about how light works and how we can see objects, then they had to choose objects that give off light.
This mode also enables kids to befriend other STEMWerkz kids and even see their position in their town development compared to other children.
STEMWerkz Channel is a free exploration section where kids can skip to any concept they wish to study. There are over 800 interactive videos covering various concepts, from physical science, life science, engineering design, or investigative science.
Children can freely explore in this section, going as in-depth as they wish to with a concept. They can also search videos by topic, explore stem quests or stories at their leisure.
Our take on STEMWerkz
There are things we loved and things we feel can be improved in STEMWerkz. The idea of this app is brilliant and I can see how it could help a lot of families get the help they need to implement and encourage STEM at home.
💛 What we loved
What I like the most about it is that the concepts presented use proper scientific terms. Most science apps are either too difficult to navigate or have simplified information. I feel that STEMWerkz is at the sweet spot: not too much and not too little.
Even M, who has a strong science knowledge, had fun exploring the various concepts and trying out the on-screen experiments and explorations.
I liked that the interactive explorations include experiments that are harder to set up at home and that have multiple variables to control. For example, in the photosynthesis lesson, M had to guess the level of water and oxygen displacement in a water plant experiment.
I feel that through their interactions and interactive experiments, kids are encouraged to ask questions and make connections. This is an important part of science and STEM.
STEMWerkz is great for top-down learners. Usually, in schools, children learn bottom-up. That means they are given all the bricks first, before asking them to build something with them. In a top-down environment, they are presented with the bigger picture and they work down to the details from there.
STEMWerkz goes into this category and I found that it works perfectly for my top-down learner because they present a broader topic before breaking it down and getting into the details, forming a bigger picture before explaining the details.
Although it has a game included, and I usually stay away from games, the kids need to work in order to play. They need to show an understanding of the concepts and apply them in the game. I feel that STEAM Valley (the game mode) encourages competitiveness, critical thinking, and management skills.
☑️ Can be improved
While we liked the app and overall idea of it, we found a couple of points that could be improved and I hope that de creators of this app take these into consideration for future releases.
The questions in STEAM Valley have a timer of only 20 seconds. Some of them are short enough to read and solve in this timeframe, but some contain complex graphs to read and I feel that the timer adds extra pressure on the kids to answer without having time to think or read through.
A downside for the younger kids would be that not all sections are read aloud. For the test and summary sections, they will have to read everything themselves. For reluctant readers, this might be a problem. A parent could help younger kids by reading the questions to them and I heard that this will get addressed in future releases.
Some concepts might be too much for younger kids, but they might be great for children that are very interested in science and STEM regardless of how young they are.
I feel that the sweet spot for this app are children between 7 and 10 and they would surely enjoy everything it has to offer.
M’s rating is 4 out of 5 stars. He liked the app, but he felt it had room for improvement.
Here’s a list comparison of what we liked and felt could be improved:
- makes STEM at home affordable and accessible
- uses proper scientific terms
- the experiments have different variables and encourage making connections
- encourages inquiry
- great for top-down learners
- encourages competitiveness, critical thinking, and management skills
- summary and tests require reading skills
- the time given for answering questions in STEAM Valley is too short
- some concepts might be too difficult for younger children
See inside the app – video
For those of you that prefer video, I made a short video showing you how the app works and why we like it.
Over to you
How do you implement STEM at home? Do you create your own curriculum or do you have a program to help you out?
Let me know in the comments below. I would love to talk about it.
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