November 8th is STEM/STEAM Day! Here at SDE we are going full steam ahead with our journey into the blogosphere so we thought we’d bring you along and get you thinking about bringing STEM or STEAM into your classroom.
Let’s spend a few moments remembering why we should even try and do this. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM jobs are the jobs of the future. These jobs will require a higher and broader level of problem-solving than any before. Students who learn in a project-based environment (like those that include STEM & STEAM) develop skills that allow them to successfully solve problems in a wider range of situations – even unfamiliar ones. So that ‘college and career ready’ phrase you’ve been hearing for years can become a reality with STEM and STEAM activities.
If you’re not convinced yet, here’s a short list of skills that STEM projects can help students develop: investigating, brainstorming, designing, planning, creating, executing, testing and presenting results. All of these are appealing and fall right into the 21st century professional persona.
Below are some things to keep in mind as you decide what your first (or next!) STEM-venture might be:
Integrate, Don’t Separate
I know, you’re thinking: I don’t have time for that. But you do if you purposefully plan for it within the units, themes, and topics you already teach.
Set and Practice Rules, Routines, and Expectations
Don’t expect that students will know how you want them to access, use, and clean up the materials you provide them with. Plan on guided discovery of any materials and set expectations about what these project-sessions should look and sound like.
Reuse & Re-purpose
A great benefit to STEM projects is that they can help you use all that stuff you’ve got. You know those milk caps you’ve been saving? There’s probably a STEM project that can use them.
The Differentiation Factor
Do you have a classroom full of students who all learn the same way? Of course not. STEM/STEAM activities can be one powerful tool for reaching and teaching each child. It is an opportunity for students to talk, explore, research, draw, build, and more.
Take a Peek
Spend a bit of time exploring your school or district’s standards or expectations around STEM/STEAM. I’ll bet you will find that you are already doing some of it in some way, shape, or form and you didn’t even know it. Expand upon that!
Finally, Let’s Not Forget About Failure
I am a huge proponent of the fact that our last mistake is our best teacher. Don’t be afraid to let your students fail. It builds resilience and better problem-solving. Make it know up front that failure is part of the most projects and should be celebrated. It probably taught you something.
Check out this link to get your lesson-planning juices flowing and preparing for National STEM Day. https://www.weareteachers.com/teaching-steam/