Have you noticed that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math activities have become a huge educational focus? These activities, often referred to by the acronym STEM, are meant to pique, then capture a child’s interest in math and science at an early age, thereby helping children perform better in these areas.
If you’re a more liberal arts minded person like me, with interests in literature, writing, history, philosophy, or language, you may be wondering why so much emphasis is placed upon STEM activities. As our world becomes more technologically and medically advanced, career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math will increase. These jobs will need to be filled by individuals proficient in STEM, so many believe it’s in the nation’s best interest to introduce children to STEM concepts early.
Math is a critical component of the STEM philosophy, so introducing your child to a math based hobby could enhance learning. If your child already has a love of math, a math based hobby would be a fun way to keep her engaged in the subject. If your child is not a fan of math, a math based hobby might be a great way to help him practice mathematical concepts in an interesting and nonthreatening way. Another benefit of adopting a math based hobby is that many of them require teamwork, thus providing a fantastic opportunity for families to work and play together.
Here’s a great list of math based hobbies, you may wish to explore with your children.
Pool: Pool is a fun recreational game for many. However, it also has great mathematical connections. Players must have a good understanding of angles, as well as motion and speed. Critical thinking is necessary to help understand how to pocket balls in as few shots as possible.
Model building: Want to teach your children about scale, measurement, and mechanics? Try model building. Create your own model from scratch or purchase a kit. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Re-living the Wright Way, an AWESOME resource about the Wright Brothers’ flight and hands on building flight activities.
Origami/Kirigami: Paper crafts can be fun! The Japanese craft, origami, has existed for centuries. This pear folding hobby has a focus on patterns, symmetry, and angles. If you want to up the ante, try kirigami. This craft is similar to origami, but involves folding and cutting paper (kiru=to cut/gami=paper). Get started by visiting the Origami Resource Center.
Magic tricks: A few weeks ago, our local library hosted a neat magic trick workshop. The girlies were surprised to learn just how many tricks are based on mathematical concepts like patterns and arithmetic. Encourage your child to amaze family and friends with math magic show. Tricks and how to perform them can be found in this post, Stunning Friends With Magic.
Knitting/crocheting: This is a creative and mathematical hobby. In addition to the basic counting of stitches and measurement, knitters and crocheters must be familiar with geometrical concepts such as shape, patterns, and symmetry.
Coding: If your child loves gaming, then coding might be a great way to draw them into math. Programming introduces children to algorithms. Older children can learn coding on YouTube’s Coding Math channel, while younger ones may enjoy Scratch from MIT or a coding intro over at Code Monster from Crunchzilla.
Robotics: When coding and model building unite, robotics is born. Children can create build robots and then program them to perform certain movements using code. The 4H Club has a robotics program as does Lego via its Mindstorm products. However, I love this Stemworks page with easy robotics activities for beginners. We also love Lego Dacta and the Lego Technic Simple Machines book.
Math is more than number crunching, memory, and rote activity. Branch out, learn more, and bring the family together with math based hobbies!
© 2014, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.