Five Ways Speech and Language Relate to STEM

Enrichment Therapies

September 27, 2023

child doing a science experiment

Brooke Haessig M.A., CF-SLP

Have you ever wondered what skills are needed to complete a STEM project? We often forget how speech and language impact science, technology, engineering, and math projects. We use sequencing and planning, our vocabulary, reading, following directions, and social communication. Together, let’s look closer at how we use these five skills while doing a STEM project!

Sequencing and Planning

One of the many skills that we work on in speech therapy is sequencing/planning. This is the ability to create an idea in your head, identify the steps that are required to complete this idea, and then carry out these steps in order to achieve your goal. As you can imagine, this skill is very important when it comes to completing a science experiment or a math problem.

For some people who may have a language and/or executive functioning deficit, this skill does not come as easy to them, which may make things like STEM more difficult and less fun. These kids often attend speech therapy to work on their skills of sequencing and planning to make daily tasks and STEM experiments possible.

Vocabulary

Vocabulary refers to the words that someone knows and uses. As we grow and develop more language skills, our vocabulary grows as well. Having an extensive vocabulary can help us comprehend, speak, read, and write. When working in STEM it is important to be able to understand written or spoken directions and carry out various tasks.

It is also important to be able to communicate your thoughts with others in order to collaborate and/or ask for help. Without an expanded vocabulary, this would be very difficult and a majority of your time would be spent looking in a dictionary rather than completing a project.

Reading

To complete any experiment, problem, or project it is crucial to be able to read. Whether you are trying something new on your own or following directions, there will always be something that you need to read in order to complete these tasks efficiently.

But, how does reading relate to speech and language? Well, for one thing, a foundation of strong speech skills and understanding how sounds work together to create words is helpful when reading new words. This basic understanding can help someone sound out a word they have never seen before. Additionally, reading is a big part of language. Language is used in not only speaking and listening but also in reading and writing.

Following Directions

It is one thing to be able to read the words that make up our directions, but it is another skill to understand those directions and be able to follow them. As we learned above, speech and understanding how sounds work is an important foundation in order for someone to read new words which may be crucial when reading directions or doing research about something unfamiliar to you.

However, the next step is being able to understand what those words mean and putting them together in your brain in order to carry out what the directions are asking you to do. Following directions is a language skill that is extremely important and often targeted in speech therapy for kids who struggle in this area.

Social Communication

Having social communication skills allows us to interact with others in an appropriate manner. This is a skill that we use not only to make friends but also to collaborate with peers or teachers for various experiments and projects. As many of us know, participating in STEM is much more fun and efficient when it is done with others.

For some people, social communication does not come as naturally as it does for others. For this reason, some people attend speech therapy to practice social communication skills.

Try It Yourself!

Next time you find yourself completing a project, whether it be in physics, biology, chemistry, robotics, engineering, cooking, astronomy, etc. ask yourself how you are using each of the five areas listed above. STEM wouldn’t be possible without speech and language.

Below is an experiment to try for yourself:

SLIME: Speech and Language In My Experiment

What you need:

  • 4 tbsp Glue
  • 1 tbsp Borax
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 cups
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Measuring spoons

Directions:

  1. Mix water and borax into one cup. Stir with a popsicle stick.
  2. Grab another cup and mix glue, a few drops of food coloring, and water into that cup. Stir with a popsicle stick.
  3. Slowly pour the Borax mix into the glue mix, and stir with a clean popsicle stick.
  4. Your slime is done when you can pick up your popsicle stick and most of the slime comes out on the stick.

Build Foundational Skills With ETLC

If you find that your child may need some extra support, contact us today! At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, we strive to provide a comfortable and supportive environment while providing high-quality therapy services to increase each child’s skills. We partner with parents and other caregivers to promote the generalization of skills and strategies. If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact us!

info@enrichmenttherapies.com

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317

319-626-2553

infodm@enrichmenttherapies.com

5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131

515-419-4270

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Originally written by: Suzanne Schuchert, M.S., CCC-SLP (2021) Updated by: Ashley Conrad, M.A., CCC-SLP (2023) Does your child’s speech-language...

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