Homeschool

Promoting STEM Education in Your Homeschool

Did you know that STEM occupations are growing at a rate of 17% while other occupations are growing at 9.8%? And that those with STEM degrees have a higher income than others? According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, it’s true! (1)

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. (You may sometimes see this abbreviated as STEAM. When abbreviated that way, the A stands for the Arts.) When students study these areas, they learn valuable math and science skills as well as skills related to computers or other technology. But what if your child isn’t going into a math- or science-related field? Is STEM education beneficial for your student? The answer is yes! All of us need problem-solving skills and critical-thinking skills, and STEM education helps us gain those skills. Whether we need them for our jobs or in our regular day-to-day lives, these skills are important! And research shows that those students who receive STEM education are better paid for their jobs than those who don’t–even if they aren’t in STEM-related jobs!

MakeCrate

So how can you make STEM a part of your child’s education? What if you’re not well-educated in this area yourself? We recently discovered a great STEM-education option that we’d love to share with you! It’s called MakeCrate. It’s a subscription box that is delivered to your child monthly. It includes all the parts your child will need to make a new electronics project each month including step-by-step illustrated instructions that have been kid-tested to be sure they’re easy to understand. Also included is access to an online community forum with educational content and video tutorials.

To get a better idea of the kinds of projects that are included in a MakeCrate subscription, take a look at the video below.

Three of our Hip Homeschool Moms team members were given 3-month subscriptions to MakeCrate to try out in order to share their information and experiences with you. Keep reading to learn more and find out how MakeCrate could be a great option for educational fun for your child!

Jennifer’s teen son enjoys MakeCrate and is looking forward to their advanced kits in the future!

I have a child who, since the age of five, has enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together. He likes to know how things are put together and what makes them work. Over the years, his curiosity about anything that involves electronics and building has increased. If you have a child like mine, MakeCrate may just be the answer for your curious child!

Lately, STEM studies have become a big part of education programs. Many children who may not have had an interest in those areas are discovering that science, technology, engineering and math can be exciting. Add MakeCrate to the equation, and STEM study becomes fun.

MakeCrate is a subscription service for makers who are age 13 years or older. The kits are created to help children improve their electronic, engineering, and coding skills. Subscriptions are offered in 3-, 6-, or 12-month intervals and may be purchased for personal use or gifted to a promising coder, engineer, or maker. Each kit contains all of the pieces and equipment needed to put it together. The only additional things you need are a computer and Internet access. The kits come with step-by-step instructions that are written and illustrated–making it easy to put them together. If students need additional instruction, they may log into their subscription accounts and watch video tutorials for the kit being completed.

River was able to easily follow the written instructions to put together his kits. The instructions are written to be understood by one who is new to STEM education as well as one who is more familiar. The detailed illustrated booklets are a great visual resource.

River was able to work through the construction of the kit without any problems. Once he put the kit together, he accessed his online account to obtain a code he needed in order to make the project work. It was exciting seeing it come together and work!

Right now, the kits are geared towards the beginning to intermediate user. MakeCrate has plans to create kits for children who are advanced in their STEM studies. I think River will definitely enjoy and benefit more from the advanced kits.

MakeCrate is a good product to use if you want to introduce your child to STEM activities. The work involved for completing the projects is not complicated. That is a plus for children who may be intimidated by any area of STEM study. Being able to see the immediate results of their work may make STEM study and learning more appealing. Your children, like mine, will look forward to receiving these educational and fun kits each month!

Dachelle’s daughter is a subscription box addict and loves MakeCrate!

We have a subscription box addiction in our family! The kids love to receive mail and hands-on activities. I love boxes of activities that include all the instructions and supplies we’ll need. We’ve tried several over the years, but our favorites include quality projects that not only provide an educational benefit and are interesting but are also not made of flimsy materials that won’t last. We are not new to subscription crates, so we can quickly spot a quality product versus an inferior one. MakeCrate easily falls into the quality product category.

One of the most important aspects of a good crate is having all the supplies provided. MakeCrate’s box comes with a spiral bound book that details the experiment to be performed. This is one of the best instruction manuals I have seen in a subscription crate. Not only is it well made, but the instructions are clear with visuals of each step. Each crate also comes with all the supplies you will need for that particular kit.

After the initial starter kit, I was able to leave my middle school daughter on her own to work through each kit. She followed the instructions in the book inserting components where indicated. If she had any trouble, she referred to the videos on the MakeCrate Website. The videos contain very clear and thorough explanations.

After she installed all the components, she installed the code onto her board. MakeCrate has two options: Write the code to the board following detailed instructions or download the code straight to the board. We used both options as I wanted her to learn to code, but sometimes it was quicker to get to the final result to just download the code.

If there were problems, this is the step where they would be found. On our first attempt at downloading code, we had a problem. I immediately went to MakeCrate’s forum and asked for help. I was quickly answered with a solution to the problem. It was a minor setting that needed to be changed. I was impressed with how quickly MakeCrate responded to my message.

Once the code was installed, the fun began. There is something so fascinating about a blinking light when it’s a light you designed and coded. A simple blinking light becomes an accomplishment!

MakeCrate gets this subscription box addict family’s approval. It’s a quality product with excellent customer service.

Durenda’s 12-year-old son enjoys hands-on, technical activities, and MakeCrate is perfect for him!

I’ve got 5 boys, and almost all of them have been interested in electronics and the mechanics of how things work.  I am not really interested in, nor do I have knowledge of these things, and never in a million years could I come up with something on my own to pique their interest or stay ahead of the curve of how quickly they catch onto such things!  

We have been homeschooling over 20 years, and when our older boys (22, 19, 18, 16) were younger, things like MakeCrate weren’t around, so we did our best with what we had.

Our youngest son is 12 and is very interested in subjects that are on the technical end of things.  I was thrilled to find MakeCrate because it is giving our son the experience he was wanting.  We both love how hands-on it is (always a bonus for boys!) and it’s not just about the technical end of things. He’s learning to follow directions and problem solve…both VERY important skills to have in the work world!

It was fun to see his face light up when the packages arrived at our door.  And being able to open them up, look inside, and be excited about the next project is really fun for ME to watch! It’s wonderful to have everything we need included…makes it a no brainer for mom!

The folks at MakeCrate do their best to make the process of connecting with the code online as easy as possible.  My son and I struggled a little bit to figure it out, but that’s probably because his mom is NOT a techie in any sense of the word AND it gave HIM the chance to help figure it out–which made him feel much smarter than me…a boost for his confidence! (Editor’s Note: Don’t forget that you can go to the online community to get support and help if you have trouble too! Although letting your child work to figure out problems on his or her own is a great place to start!)

MakeCrate Giveaway

About the author

Jennifer

Jennifer now lives in Small Town, USA, but will always remain a California girl. She is a Christian, wife and homeschool mother of three children (a.k.a. the ‘Wild Bunch’). Jennifer is a writer, who enjoys reading, running, too much time on the computer, sewing and taking lots and lots of pictures (just ask her children). She is also a lover of food and can be found in her kitchen whipping up something delicious and vegetarian. Oh, she never forgets dessert. You may find her writing at her personal blog, Milk & Honey Mommy and for West Tennessee families at Kid Madison, a blog for kids, teens and families and at Homeschool Roster, a listing of events and news for homeschoolers.

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