STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education is getting a lot of attention. But there are many barriers, including how to implement it, identify what works and does not work, and dealing with new roles that cross traditional department boundaries.
What is STEM?
Aimed at educators, this introductory video defines STEM (integrating Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), outlines the benefits, and identifies areas like school organization, teacher preparation, and student assessment.
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To prepare for the STEM adventure, PBS station KEQD offers this checklist of five questions your school needs to consider.
This 16 minute film looks at STEM education at the STEM Magnet Lab School in Northglenn, CO. Some quotes include, "I've taught insects before, and I've never taught it like this", "My goal is that every week they'll do something they'll never forget ... and it's a lot of fun!", "Humpty Dumpty keeps falling off the wall. How can we make a safe wall for Humpty?", "We get to do a lot of fun stuff like engineering and science", and "[My son] is always engaged."
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The importance of STEM is not restricted to the U.S.
This resource, sponsored by a consortium of Queensland Universities, provides a range of high quality programs and initiatives designed to build STEM capacity across the state of Queensland, Australia.
It includes an excellent answer to the question "Why STEM?" and an extensive resource section with downloadable posters and occupation profiles.
STEM demonstrations do not have to be elaborate or expensive.
Sciphile.org believes that science education is important, and pursuing it should be fun. They host a library of bite-sized science demonstrations, experiments, activities and lessons designed to help teach a variety of science topics and inspire your student's inner geek. The materials are freely available for use in the classroom.
A growing body of research suggests that creating video games can be a highly engaging way for children to learn a range of STEM skills. Moreover, it encourages youth to take ownership over STEM knowledge, rather than viewing it as belonging to others. The National STEM Video Game Challenge encourages middle and high school students as individuals and small groups to create games and submit them to the competition. Talk about hands on learning.
Using this site's rules & guidelines, your class or school could have a similar competition.
Anne Jolly reviews how PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) were implemented, or not, and how STEM programs need a higher level of accountability.
What, exactly, makes a particular curriculum an authentic STEM program?
Anne Jolly proposes a list of 10 outcomes that STEM programs should focus on attaining. They include: engineering is a driving force behind STEM challenges, students (and teachers) feel comfortable working with technology, teachers are active learners, and STEM students work to solve real-world problems.
This post defines six characteristics of a great STEM lesson. Our favorite is: STEM lessons allow for multiple right answers and reframe failure as a necessary part of learning.
This is what happens when you take a comic book artist, an inventor, and a toy designer.
Howtoons provides engaging content that teaches kids how to build things, combining all materials and instructions with storytelling. Aimed at ages 7-12.
Instructables has created a collection of 100 STEAM Projects created for teachers and educators to do with youth.
Each project encourages exploration, modification, and students to pursue their own ideas and curiosities. They are meant to be accessible, both in approach and availability and cost of materials. You're encouraged to adapt them to your local learning space.
This site, a National Science Foundation initiative, provides information, events, and resources that highlight promising practices and tools in support of effective K-12 STEM education. The site highlights exemplary programs.
The Arizona STEM Network, part of Science Foundation Arizona, is an example of groups and organizations throughout the U.S. encouraging and providing resources for STEM education.
What organizations are active in your area?
The U.S. Department of Education has a wide variety of STEM resources and grants available.
Other agencies like the Department of Energy have also indexed STEM Education resources. You can filter the list by grade level and subject area.
Look to sites like STEM Grants for information on educational grants for K-12 and educational non-profits.
Other sources for funding and support can be found by contacting your local tech companies and maker spaces.
The STEM Education Coalition provides fact sheets, presentations and other resources to support STEM education. Chaired by NSTA, this joint effort of more than 600 business, professional, and education organizations provide advocacy to and resources for federal and state policymakers.
WestEd offers professional development, evaluation, research, coaching, and assessment development in all STEM subjects. Their resources include teacher professional development and classroom lessons to help students, address and overcome common misconceptions, and develop academic language.
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