This is the final part of a series on the four Cs of STEM. New here or want a review of what STEM or the 4Cs mean? Check out this article!

So far, we’ve chatted about the types of communication skills needed for success in STEM, the importance of collaboration and the role that critical thinking plays in persevering through a STEM challenge. As we wrap up our series on the 4Cs of STEM, our focus will be on the element you are probably most familiar with - creativity!

What Does Creativity Look Like for Kids?

Creativity boils down to the idea that there is not just right vs. wrong. Think about a kindergarten art class for a moment - kids are working on a clay project and within the first few minutes it looks a rainbow has exploded in the room. Kids are making decisions about what they think is best and adding, editing and enhancing as they go. Now imagine the conference room at a high-profile advertising firm. A team sits around a table with their latest campaign materials and - you guess it - adds, edits and enhances their work as they get ready to deliver the product to their client.

Creativity has so much more to do with thinking flexibly than it does any artistic ability. For a long time, people assumed they weren’t creative because they weren’t good at art - couldn’t be further from the truth! Although we love mixing art into our STEM activities, we don’t need clay or paint for kids to flex their creative muscles.

When kids engage in a STEM activity, they are instantly faced with a problem to solve. Their job is to evaluate the materials they have, what they already know and what they need to know in order to come up with a plan. Thinking flexibly is HUGE during these initial moments because what you initially might see as being the “right” answer or plan might end up changing ten times by the time you’re finished. Kids who can stretch and think in new ways find STEM to be fun challenges!

What Can We Do at Home?

Like communication, creativity and flexible thinking comes more naturally for some kids and is an area of growth for others (the same for adults!)  Here are some things you can try at home to encourage your kids to be creative!

  • Build - with anything! Legos, blocks, play-doh, couch cushions, you name it! Better yet, get on the same level (physically!) with your kids and talk to them about what they are creating. Ask questions like “What do you think this part could be used for?” or “What are you thinking about building next?” Finding excitement in creating something from nothing is a huge bonus for those  important creative muscles.
  • Choose games and projects without one right answer. This allows kids to try new things in a way that’s fun and without the pressure of following the rules or getting everything correct (although there’s definitely a time and place to practice those skills too!)

So What’s Next?

Helping your child develop their creativity and flexible thinking skills is such an important part of raising a 21st century learner. The best news is that hopefully you can see that practicing is fun and easy! Looking for another fun and easy STEM experience for your next birthday party or school event? Check out a recent party in action here to see how much fun we’re having at STEM Game Races. 

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