Today we will be discussing STEM and the process of implementing it into your teaching. Many schools are using STEM to enrich their students. STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This is not a program that is implemented in schools, but a philosophy based on problem-solving. By doing STEM activities, you are promoting problem-solving skills. These components are vital to teaching 21st century skills that involve your child's ability to cooperate, collaborate, and communicate. You can build these skills and teach STEM through everyday activities. National Inventor's Day is celebrated on February 11th. We will brainstorm ways to get ready! These activities are meant to be simple, yet exciting to your preschool all the way to your high school students. Students will learn that by working together through their answers it promotes life-long learning and leadership.
Take a piece of paper and fold it into fourths. Write one letter from STEM in each square. Brainstorm some ways you could or already incorporate stem into your lesson plans. Here are my suggestions...
Science--Ask questions. Have them make predictions about things in the world. Do you see any shapes outside? What would happen if….? What are your ideas?
Technology- Encourage computer use. Use apps that are age appropriate. For older students, learning how to collaborate thru a google docs environment allows them to communicate through the use of technology with a purpose.
Engineering- Build things. Use blocks. Design activities that allow them to experiment and make predictions.
Math-include logical thinking. Orally discuss real life math programs.
STEM vs. STEAM Some schools are adding an Arts component and turning stem into steam. On the back of your paper write down some art ideas you could use. Some sample activities:
- Have your child use various types of mediums (crayon, marker, chalk, paints) and have plenty of paper handy!
- Find resources such and drawing books and videos.
- Visit a museum and library.
- attend a play or performance.
- Allow students to "experiment" with musical instruments.
Now we are going to move away from smaller ideas to big ideas. This is for when you are ready to take the stem principles a stem further. First, look for partnerships. Engineering requires a deeper level of thinking that needs to be encouraged. Invite members from the community employed in the engineering field. They will usually have “classroom” ideas to share. Our district was able to form a partnership with local oil refinery and the state library. These partnerships helped in the process of drafting our STEM integrated lesson.
Next, think of some hands on activities that promote the learning the basic properties of engineering. There are many possibilities to get your child excited about science, technology, engineering, and math. Write them down any other ideas you may have in each square on your paper.
School and District Implementation
Through the Montana State Library, we were given access to STEM kits on a trial basis. This allowed us to, basically, try before we buy. Our district was the first school selected in our state to pilot this program. You might need to do a little research to find out more about these kits. Through the use of those kits, we selected those that would meet our needs and budget. First, consider Computer Software - Your child can learn simple computer coding basics. Then they can advance to robotics and programming. There are programs like scratch, so even at a young age they can learn the basics. Next, Snap Circuit kits and Squishy Circuits kits - This is a fun way to introduce the concepts in circuit building. You can find kits available for purchase or get supplies lists to begin. Squishy circuits use play dough as a conductor. They will be begging for more and learn the principles of electricity. Next, Circuit Bricks are based on the idea of legos, but allow them to expand their knowledge. If you would like to integrate the Art components in stem, consider textile circuits. Students can make a shirt that lights up or create a flower pin.
Lastly, books. Finding resources such as those on Big universe, can help students understand the scientific process can be understood.
By implementing stem activities you are providing opportunities for your students to learn leadership as well as expand their scientific reasoning skills. Today we discussed ways to integrate STEM ideas into your teaching. There are many resources around you, what will you choose?
For additional information on the resources used, please visit the following websites.