5 Tips for STEM in your Classroom

9:41 AM

Chances are you have a level of knowledge and perhaps personal experience, when it comes to STEM Learning. Recently, STEAM has become part of the conversation, too. 

When SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, and MATH pair with ART, you have S.T.E.A.M.

STEM and STEAM allow students the opportunity for hands-on, situation-based application. I compiled 5 steps to keep in mind when teaching through STEM. Regardless if you're new to STEM, or if you're familiar with this teaching method, these tips will help you and your students deepen their understanding and learning. 

First and foremost, begin first with the science standards, then layer in math content. Develop situations with a real world approach. In this way, students will have an opportunity for more rigorous cross-curricular learning, instead of learning content separately. I like to tie in current events, when possible.  
It's important for challenges to be open ended. I believe children are most creative and learn best, when given opportunities to apply learning through self discovery. Specifications and parameters can be included, but specific directions on how to design or create their projects, should not. In this way, students think as engineers and discover various solutions, while following the engineering design cycle. 
Have a space for your students to create. Storage is important, especially if your project takes more than one class period. You will want to have a nice variety of mediums and supplies on hand, to allow students opportunity to try out different approaches as they develop solutions. 

Just as you give students time to brainstorm, it is important for teachers to partner with teacher colleagues, librarians/media specialists, and when possible, community members. Vertical collaboration enables to everyone to become active agents in the learning process and gives students space to share solutions with a wider audience. 
 F.A.I.L.: First, Attempt, In Learning 

I don't remember where I first heard this acronym or know where it originated, but it has definitely stuck with me. One of the most important components of learning through STEM/STEAM, is knowing that solutions are not always successful. Evaluation that leads to improvement is just as important as the planning process. When students feel comfortable learning through solutions that do not work, their understanding deepens. 

 As students move through the engineering process, design cycle flip cards are helpful. To help get started using the engineering design cycle, click here for a free copy of this student reflection page.

Are you ready to to try STEAM in your classroom? Check out my free Bridge Building Challenge.

Thanks for reading! I'd love to learn from you and hear what makes STEM and STEAM learning work well in your classroom!  


by Stephanie @ Spivey Sparks

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