Sesame Street: Sing and Play with STEM Skills
By Virginia DeBolt on August 16, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
Super Grover 2.0 started observing, questioning, investigating, analyzing and reporting last season on Sesame Street. In the upcoming season (number 42, can you believe it?), the Muppets will continue to focus on scientific investigation in order to help kids build skills in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) based world.
Here's a sneak preview of Super Grover 2.0 in season 42.
In a recent press release from Sesame Street, they explained,
The curriculum is designed to build upon children’s natural sense of curiosity. Our approach to STEM education is to integrate these four domains through the following underlying processes: observing and questioning, investigating, analyzing and reporting - in order to help children become critical thinkers as they solve every day problems.
Another example of Super Grover 2.0 in action:
The folks at Sesame Street urge parents to,
. . . experiment with wheels, pulleys, or ramps and learn even more about STEM concepts such as force, motion, and weight. Also investigate new questions and problems based on your child’s observations. Ask your child questions such as, ““I wonder if…?” and “How do you know?”, while going through the steps of scientific inquiry, including observing, investigating, looking at evidence, and reflecting on the big idea.
BlogHer went to Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, President & CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), a leading supporter of minority education through STEM fields, for more ideas to help parents raise young scientists and mathematicians. He told us,
Children learn by example. Parents are the most important source of encouragement and guidance. This is why I cannot stress enough the importance of parental (or guardian) participation when it comes to learning about STEM careers. Parents can make all the difference in the direction their children take in their education.
For parents who are not entirely aware of the various career paths in engineering, the simplest way to turn children on to these fields begins by making them aware that the world around them is shaped by engineers. From the video games they play, the cell phones that seem to be all but attached to their hands, hair and makeup products, automobiles, music, medicines, all the way to the foods they eat; none of these would exist if not for an engineer.
Dr. McPhail's thoughts about working with young girls to develop and interest in STEM fields are worth noting.
Parents can also be instrumental in dismissing the damaging myth that STEM fields are not for women. Women are significant contributors to the STEM workforce. But also another key message I would like to have parents tell their daughters is that Math is for girls. Simply put, math is a skill, not an ability. It’s something that improves with additional effort. A wonderful role model who exemplifies brains, talent and beauty is Danica McKellar. She is a celebrity with several math books under her belt. Two excellent sites I like to refer girls and parents to are, NAE’s engineeringgirl.com and nerdgirls.com. These sites highlight the accomplishments of women engineers who have taken on a wide range of today’s problems. These women are wonderful sources of inspiration.
More than Grover
Of course, Grover (excuse me, Super Grover 2.0) isn't the only furry friend to develop an interest in math, science and technology. It extends to the other Muppets as well. One can only hope it reaches outside the TV set and infects kids with a love for scientific thinking as well.
Girl with microscope image credit: Brad Flickinger.
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