We all know the screen time scares. Research is starting to show some negative impacts of all the screen time our little ones are getting in this tech-filled world. While these impacts are reals and worrisome, technology can also be good and necessary. We limit screen time when children are little, but as they grow up, technology skills will become crucial to their success as students and, later, employees. So my question is– how do we teach technological skills without bombarding kids with screens? Can we?
That was my goal when I planned a recent preschool STEAM program for my library. The focus of this technology program was electronics.
Station #1: Take Apart Electronics
I separated out work spaces in our programming room for kids to work on taking apart electronics. I’m grateful to have a tech department that had plenty of broken computers on hand for us to explore with. If you don’t have dead electronics lying around, try goodwill or other thrift stores! Another important supply for this activity is screwdrivers! You will need screwdrivers of many shapes and sizes to take apart this gear.
Station #2: Electrohunt!
This station was like a puzzle that we had to solve together by participating in a scavenger hunt for the puzzle pieces.
Before the Program
Before the program, I made a “motherboard” out of a piece of posterboard.
On the motherboard were spots for the “essential” parts of a compuer:
- Hard drive
- CD drive
- heating plate and cooling fan
- Power supply
- USB port
Then, I decorated a box per part to act as the motherboard puzzle pieces. I also made handouts listing the pieces to be found and a short description of their function.
Right before the program, I hid the box parts throughout the library.
During the Program
During the program, kids searched the library with their caregivers to find parts.
Station #3: Build an Smart Phone
My last activity was a very time intensive craft meant to teach kids about computer parts by having them build a cardboard smartphone. The prepping for this craft was hell, but the kids enjoyed making their phones (and playing pretend with them). It was worth it I guess…
I included the following parts on the smart phone:
- touch screen sensor
- front and rear-facing cameras
- vibration motor
- wireless charging coil
- logic boards
Pictured above are cardboard logic boards and the different smart phone pieces on the right. I also had handouts for this activity so parents could easily talk about these technology concepts to their children.
This program was a success and I truly believe the participants learned a lot without ever having to take out a screen!