I am currently serving as a Smart Play Ambassador with the Minnesota Children’s Museum and each month we explore various topics and share the educational learning opportunities at the museum as well as apply it to our own lives. This month we are talking about the STEM learning opportunities at the Thomas & Friends exhibit.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This is an education topic widely discussed in social, academic and economic circles. STEM skills are important being competitive in the worldwide economy. Wait? We are talking about our little kids right? The ones we just rationalized with about not putting their toothbrush in the toliet? Yes, in actuality the earlier we start helping our children grow STEM thinking the better and I know, how crazy to think we are preparing these little people for the workforce! I just want the toys picked up!
From the Minnesota Children’s musuem, early childhood, STEM practices look like this:
- Science: using senses to observe and events and phenomena, asking questions, seeking answers, describing properties
- Technology: using tools and understanding their uses
- Engineering: identifying problems, exploring options, designing solutions, manipulating outcomes
- Math: gathering information, comparing sets, classifying objects, quantifying amounts
The new Thomas & Friends Explore the Rails exhibit was inspired by STEM-based thinking and practices. It is also a great place to try out some of those 7Cs. You remember the 7Cs right? If you need a refresher check out my 7Cs post. Now these 7Cs match up perfectly with STEM practices and thinking. Here are some examples from the museum:
- Taking initiative, and creating and carrying out a plan to repair Percy’s wheels (Confidence and Critical Thinking).
- Navigating differences of opinion and working with others to get Percy’s engine going (Collaboration and Control).
- Seeing and experimenting with a multitude of routes on the one-of-a-kind train table (Creative Thinking).
- Sharing thoughts and ideas with others while figuring out how to fit the luggage and cargo onto the train cars (Communication).
- Developing eye-hand coordination and strengthening small muscles by opening doors, turning knobs, and sliding trains down the track in the special Tot Spot (Coordination).
Who knew so much learning and development was going on during play? We recently checked out the exhibit with our almost five-year-old and two-year-old. This is a perfect place for those ages. Here are some of the activities our family enjoyed:
1. Fixing Percy’s broken wheel.
2. Checking out the train table.
3. Loading and sorting luggage on the train and riding.
4. Using wheels to load Percy’s coal box and get the steam going.
5. Playing in different spots of the train table including the center hole.
6. Exploring history of Thomas through video.
7. Climbing inside the cab of Thomas to explore buttons and levers.
8. Early Explorers area with blocks and toddler activities.
9. Pretend play as conductors, playing with the clocks and selling tickets.
Thomas & Friends Exhibit: http://www.mcm.org/visitor-information/visiting-exhibits/thomas/
Museum Hours: http://www.mcm.org/visitor-information/hours-parking-directions/
Exhibit open until September 21, 2014.
Have you checked out the Thomas & Friends exhibit-what did enjoy the most? If you haven’t checked it out, what do you think your kids will want to see? Tell me in the comments here on my blog or on my Facebook Page and I’ll pick one person on Thursday, August 21 to receive two free admission passes to the Minnesota Children’s museum.