- Siba Al Shouli
The STEM Buddies App: How Does it Promote STEM Learning?
The STEM Buddies app, is an educational app for children in Arabic and in English. It introduces children to STEM topics and 21st century skills in a fun and engaging way. In the previous post, the importance of STEM in the early years was highlighted. The STEM Buddies app is one example how parents can help their children develop their STEM skills. It promotes STEM learning outside of the classroom.
The STEM Buddies app provides children with interactive content that fuels their imagination, engages them and helps them develop a lifelong love for learning with its fun and playful approach. It also provides offline activities like experiments to further deepen the knowledge. STEM Buddies app is also gender neutral, and appeals to both girls and boys.
In the Flying topic for example, children are first presented with a question, “Why can some objects fly while others cannot?”. This question makes children start wondering, and teaches them to question things around them. The Flying four-minute video that follows, explains Flying for children with four main learning objectives: listing several things that can fly, give examples of how the weight of an object affects its ability to stay afloat, describe why wind is necessary, and apply knowledge of how the shape of an objects affects its ability to stay afloat.
In the Flying episode, Izzy, the flying robot dog, tries to help Cookie, the tech wiz, get his kite down from the tree. However, it realizes soon enough that its propeller is broken and it cannot fly anymore. Helix the engineer agrees to fix the propeller and explain to her friends how flying works. Doc, Victor and Cookie ask lots of good questions to help them understand flying. The video has wonderful illustrations and also real footage to help facilitate learning. It also uses labels to highlight key terms.
Children will also find the well-developed characters like Doc and her buddies, relatable because they have realistic, charismatic and engaging personalities. The characters show children how to become critical thinkers who investigate the world around them and teach them analytical thinking through example.
The STEM Buddies educational experts explain that the app aims to create critical thinkers and problem solvers. After exploring the app, children will begin questioning why things happen in their everyday experiences. The characters within the app model everyday experiences that all children have, such as flying their kites or paper planes, falling (gravity), noise (sound) or rain (water cycle) and how to delve into a deeper understanding of why and how things happen. By following the characters in the app, the children gain the know-how to become self-directed, forward-thinking, collaborative learners; all skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century framework.
The STEM Buddies has multiple tiers for accomplishing its learning goals. First, it presents the objectives and focus material. The focus material, which is presented in the video, provides basic goal for learner’s knowledge. The children are encouraged to build their understanding around a topic. Through the video, the characters model how to achieve mastery of the content. By demonstrating for children how to question, critically think and solve problems, the app gives them the ability to assimilate these skills in their own life. The second tier is assessment. The children are evaluated on their grasp of the knowledge of the focus material though a number of interactive questions and activities. This allows for reflection. During this time, the learner can re-examine the content to gain further understanding of how she attains necessary information. In another tier, the children are exposed to additional fun facts. These facts provide an opportunity to expand the content, thereby encouraging the children to deepen their inquiry into different topics. Then, there are the certificates. They are provided after the successful completion of each topic. In other words, they are provided for mastery to further emphasize the achievement in proficiency with the knowledge. There are also coloring pages and interactive puzzles. Finally, parents can access the offline experiments on social media, that can be performed at home using everyday materials. The experiments foster collaboration and provide a real-life, hands-on application for extension of the material. By doing those activities, children learn to measure, cut, experiment, create and problem solve all while having loads of fun. The STEM Buddies app is suitable for children ages 4-9 and is certified for educational pedagogy by Education Alliance Finland (EAF).
The STEM Buddies app is a wonderful resource for parents and children who are looking to enhance their STEM learning while having fun. The content is well structured and studied. Each topic has a defined set of learning objectives for the selected age group. It is a safe app that is certified by pedagogists and loved by parents and children from around the world.