National S.T.E.M. Day

While growing up, I was surrounded by STEM influences. My mother was a middle school math teacher, my father a lawyer by day and an aspiring paleontologist by weekend encouraged me and my younger brothers to be master builders, amateur wild life experts, and multiplication table junkies. My brothers’ love for all things engineering and science led them both to careers in engineering and biology.

My career path strayed a bit from my brothers and I ended up in higher education, but my family’s love for STEM activities and toys has been ignited in my preschool aged boys. It began with a deep love for Duplo Legos around age two. My husband would scour swap sites and purchase garbage bags and totes full of second hand Legos. With no exaggeration we have three laundry baskets full of these things. My then toddlers and husband would spend hours constructing every structure known to man. Their imaginations ran wild with the endless construction possibilities and their minds were being conditioned to problem solve and critically think through a plan.

From Duplo Legos we have moved on to not only the classic Legos but to a variety of new toys and activities that my STEM loving four year old’s love.  Their recommendations are below: 

Preschool STEM Toys

  • Peradix flexible building sticks
  • Magnatiles
  • Legos
  • Waffle blocks or Bristle blocks
  • Marble runs
  • Microscopes
  • Binoculars
  • Telescopes

From growing our own tadpoles into frogs to mapping out the constellations on our iPad (starlight app is highly recommended) we have figured out a way to incorporate STEM into almost every activity and toy of my boys. Through the last two years, I have witnessed my boys’ vocabulary improve through the explanation of their creations. I have also loved watching their confidence grow when they see an idea come to fruition. 

 Preschool STEM TV Shows

  • Storybots (Netflix)
  • The Magic School Bus (Netflix)
  • Sid the Science Kid (PBS)
  • Wild Kratts (PBS)
  • Blaze and the Monster Machines (Nickelodeon) Creative Galaxy (Amazon Prime)
  • Dog McStuffins (Disney Junior) 

Local Preschool STEM Activities

  • Mallory Kountze Planetarium located on the campus of UNO is a fabulous place to discovery the mystery and awe of space. 
  • Do Space promotes technology literacy and encourages creative growth in their maker space. 
  • Joslyn Art Museum’s Scott EdTech Gallery is a fun way to be interactive with art in the museum.
  • Strategic Air Command and Aerospace’s Children’s Learning Center teaches children about science, technology, and physics. 
  • Durham Museum has recently opened an interactive makers space called The Platform. 
  • Classes around the area like Silly Science at Romp n’ Roll, Mud Pies at Fontenelle Forest, or Little Chefs at the Wonder Nook. 

What are your favorite STEM toys, TV shows, and local activities? 

Becka is an Iowa native who moved to Omaha in June 2015. She is one half of a higher education couple, a mom to identical twin boys (Avery and Elliot 2014) and two sassy wiener dogs (Nora and Knox). Becka enjoys the craziness of twins and the unpredictability of each day. Even with three degrees, most recently a doctorate in higher education, she continues to find herself googling things like “pachycephalosaurus + herbivore” or “excavator vs digger.” With two very energetic and curious preschoolers at home Becka enjoys the peacefulness of her daily commute to Lincoln where she is a coordinator in the Nebraska Business Honors Academy. Becka loves being outdoors in her garden, on the lake with her family, or sitting on the patio with a friend. Her kryptonite is diet coke, peanut m&m’s and a kid free Target trip.