Why Are STEAM Activities Important for Middle Schoolers?
Between the ages of 11 and 14 years old, children become more compatible with abstract thinking and experience a greater desire to prove themselves and feel socially accepted. Unfortunately, the focus on standardized testing and independent work in traditional middle schools often restricts these new patterns of thought.
Rather than simply acquiring knowledge, middle schoolers benefit more from hands-on activities that teach them how to apply what they’ve learned creatively to solve real-world problems. One of the best ways to achieve this is with STEAM activities for middle schoolers.
STEAM – which stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math – is a type of collaborative learning that combines the logic of STEM with the curiosity, imagination, and out-of-the-box thinking of art subjects. It offers teenagers greater freedom in learning while also teaching them valuable skills that prepare them for academic and career success.
Benefits of STEAM activities for middle schoolers
Combines hard and soft skills
Hard skills are technical abilities that help people to complete job-specific tasks. They include writing, graphic design, coding, marketing, speaking a second language, and other skills that are taught in schools.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are things like teamwork, problem-solving, organization, communication, and attitude. But while these are vitally important for social, physiological, and professional well-being, middle schoolers aren’t taught how to develop their soft skills.
STEAM activities for middle schoolers effectively combine hard and soft skills to provide a well-rounded education. Our Creating Inventions kit, for example, guides kids from learning simple engineering design to creating and improving their own original inventions based on prompts.
By learning about a subject and then working together to complete various tasks, teenagers advance their academic learning in an environment that also encourages personal growth. This type of learning gives middle schoolers the perfect combination of skills to thrive as healthy individuals and in their careers.
Teaches critical thinking
Traditional STEM subjects flood learners with pages and pages of facts and figures. But there’s a difference between knowing how plants grow and figuring out how to maximize crop yield to combat world hunger. These kinds of problems can only be solved by bringing many areas of knowledge together and using them to make something new.
Activities like our STEAM Builder Bin offer middle schoolers an open-ended opportunity to create their own solutions by making strong connections between subject areas. They then encourage learners to work together to analyze their efforts to gradually break down and overcome complex problems. This helps teenagers apply critical thinking to their own lives, allowing them to make and evaluate decisions that empower them to achieve their dreams.
Deepens technological literacy
The ability to use digital devices, computer programs, and the internet is already a key skill in our professional and personal lives. And as technology continues to rapidly develop, kids will need to know not just how to use computers, but also how they think.
As well as technology, programming, and engineering, STEAM activities can teach kids computational thinking skills. In other words, they help them learn how to express solutions in a way that computers can understand and act upon through their code. This allows them to leverage the incredible power of technology to create practical solutions in a world that relies on machines.
But how’s that any different from STEM? Well, by adding art to the mix, STEAM retains a focus on people. Rather than just create solutions that are efficient, STEAM learning teaches kids to use their knowledge for the greatest social good. This ingrains the belief that society needs to protect the social, emotional, and practical needs of all people, setting them up to create positive change.
Encourages exploration and risk taking
Even in middle school, kids are under a lot of pressure to succeed academically. So when it comes to taking a test, it’s always better to give answers right out of the textbook.
This safe approach works for getting good grades, but it also teaches kids that branching out and taking a risk isn’t a good idea. Failure is seen as strictly negative as opposed to an opportunity for learning and growth.
STEAM activities, on the other hand, show middle schoolers how failing can be a stepping stone to success. Kids who use our Creating Bridges & Lifts kits, for example, are encouraged to build craft stick bridges and test how much it takes to break them. This gives them valuable experiential knowledge that they can reapply in their next, more successful, attempt.
This encourages a cycle of action, evaluation, and application that helps children to continuously improve themselves. And when they finally overcome a challenge, they become more inclined to look at future situations as an opportunity for growth, not a risk to be avoided.
In this way, STEAM activities give middle schoolers the confidence to participate in new experiences in a safe and sensible manner. And if things go wrong, they have the resilience and critical thinking necessary to pick themselves up again afterward.
Support your teens with STEAM activity kits
STEAM activities for middle schoolers are a great way to promote healthy social, emotional, and academic growth. But these hands-on learning tasks aren’t just for school. They’re so exciting and engaging that middle schoolers love to tackle STEAM projects and carry out experiments just for fun!
To give you teens the best possible encouragement, the team at STEAMbright has created amazing STEAM activity kits that support kids from age 3 all the way to 18. That includes our Bright Beginners series for ages 9 to 11 and our Ambitious Adventurers series for ages 12 to 14.
Shop by age in our online store to find the perfect STEAM activities to help your middle schoolers flourish.