By Teachers, For Teachers
STEM lessons have gained a lot of popularity recently. You’ve probably seen them online and maybe even have implemented a few in your own classroom, so you know that designing a STEM lesson can be a bit overwhelming because of all the layers and parts that go into creating it. In order to ensure that you’ve created an effective STEM lesson, you must be sure that your lesson has included all of these essential components. Here we’ll take a look at what it takes to create a great STEM lesson, as well as show you a few popular STEM lessons to try out in your own classroom this year.
To begin, you need to start with a question or a real-world problem. This question or problem has to make students think, have multiple correct answers, and intrigue students to want to learn more. Next, you need to think about how science, technology, engineering, and math fit into the lesson. To integrate science, ask yourself, “How can I relate your problem to the real world? What will help my students observe the natural world around them?” Technology shouldn’t be hard to fit into your question or problem, because in today’s day and age, everything is basically technological. Make a list of what you could do with technology and how you would like to see your students utilize it in the lesson. An engineer’s job is to design, build, and test her work. Think about how students will use the engineering design process to help solve their problem. Lastly, think about how math will fit into your lesson. Is there a pattern students can discover, or will they need to calculate something? How will they apply the information learned? Once you have all of the components together, then you will have made a great STEM lesson.
Here are three STEM lessons to implement this year. Each lesson can be tailored to fit your students’ needs.
Instead of trying to think of the perfect STEM lesson that will reach all students, try giving your class a STEM kit. You can create your own DIY kit very easily. All you have to do is ask students to bring in discarded items from home, like egg cartons, cereal boxes, soda bottles, empty food containers, old newspapers, and anything else that students would be able to make something out of. Once you’ve assembled all of the items, have a brainstorm session with your students and ask them to come up with a STEM question or real-world issue they would like to solve. Their goal is to collectively come up with one problem that all student must solve. Students are then put into teams and must use the STEM kits that you put together to design a solution to the problem they chose. This is a great way for students to be as creative as they like, and it doesn’t hurt that students get to come up with the concept which helps to take some pressure off of you coming up with an idea.
STEM education is all about using design to find ways to solve problems on any given topic. If you’re looking for a way to get your students to use their creative thinking skills, then have them design their own board game. The great thing about STEM board games is that students are using something familiar (an old board game) to create something new (a new board game). Maybe there was a problem with an original board game that they didn’t like, now it’s their job to come up with their own version of the game. Encourage students to recreate materials, play with the size and scale of the game, and think through the rules of the game. Or, they can create a new game from scratch. Overall, their job is to design a board game so people can have fun.
For this STEM lesson, students are to design a tool that will help with a specific problem. You can choose a universal problem, or you can have students choose one for themselves, that’s up to you. For this example, the STEM problem is for students to come up with a device that will help their classmate who is in a wheelchair have the ability to carry his or her school supplies. Each team is given supplies and must create a hands-on tool. Supplies can be anything that you want, from mesh and cardboard to fabric. Once students have created their design, then they must use a tech tool like Canva to create a persuasive poster to convince others why their design works the best. This is a great lesson that includes all of the essential STEM components as well as the added benefit of art to make it a STEAM lesson.
STEM activities help illustrate the concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math. When possible, always try to mix in all of these concepts to help maximize learning so students will better understand how these elements work together.
What are your favorite STEM classroom activities to do with students?
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.