Most kids are curious by nature, that’s why tinkering, constructing, and experimenting are great building blocks for learning—especially when it comes to STEM activities. However, some students may not have opportunities to practice these skills outside of school. That’s why giving your students the tools to be creative and inventive in the classroom is so important. Whether you’re just beginning your STEM program or just looking for new ideas, there are plenty of ways to integrate STEM activities into the school day.
The following steps and easy-to-implement activities can help you bring STEM learning to all students without adding additional time and stress to your day.
1. Start with stand-alone STEM activities and kits
As an easy way to get started with STEM/STEAM activities, look for stand-alone projects that can be completed in one class period, after school, during free time, or in a school makerspace. Kits, like the examples shown below, come with everything you need, including instructions and activity ideas.
The Bristlebot STEM Project Kit (grades 3–12) gives students a basic understanding of engineering, motors, circuitry, and principles of balance by building a small robot using a toothbrush, pipe cleaners, and vibrating motor. And with enough materials for 25 students, each student can feel a sense of accomplishment.
The Strawbees® Inventor Kit (grades K–8) uses straws and recyclable plastic connectors to help students understand the basic principles of engineering by building, testing, and modifying structures or fun creatures.
The Snap Circuits® Motion Kit (grades 2–12) gives students an understanding of electrical circuits while creating over 165 hands-on projects focused on motion and physics.
The Magformers® Miracle Brain (grades K–12) boosts creative thinking as students build vehicles, shapes, and building structures with easy-to-use magnetic pieces.
KEVA® Structures (grades K–8) offer endless possibilities for building and help students gain an understanding of balance and proportion by stacking wood planks to create geometric forms and structures.
2. Create a school-wide STEM program
Design and build projects are the foundation of project-based learning. These activities allow students to collaborate, create, test, and make adjustments to a prototype or develop a conclusion for a problem-solving project.
STEAM/STEM activities like these can align to your core curriculum for classroom work, and they can make great projects for after-school or lunch clubs. You can also set aside allotted time for creative events, like a “Maker Monday,” to help students engage in more complex collaborative-building or problem-solving tasks.
The Thames & Kosmos Physics Solar Workshop Experiment Kit (grades 3–12) teaches students about harnessing and using solar power as they build five different models.
The Thames & Kosmos Mechanical Engineering Robotic Arms Experiment Kit (grades 2–9) explores mechanical engineering principles through six mechanical models.
The Strawberry DNA Extraction Kit (grades 5–12) teaches students to retrieve and isolate DNA while working in pairs.
The popular Nasco CSI Forensics Classroom Kit (grades 5–8) immerses students in a series of scenarios to help develop problem-solving and collaboration skills while using a variety of forensic equipment to solve crimes.
To make your job a little easier by making resources readily available (and nicely organized) the TeacherGeek Maker Space Activity Cart enables you to easily wheel thousands of building components and tools into classrooms or your multi-purpose room for a school-wide event. And, as an added bonus, it also comes with plenty of downloadable projects.
3. Integrate STEM activities into your existing curriculum
Whether your STEM instruction is happening in a classroom, virtually, or in a blended environment, digital curriculum is a great way to supplement existing lessons. The STEM:IT and ROBOT:IT curriculum presents students with topic-based activities and challenges across core subjects to encourage them to become independent and creative problem-solvers.
Although you might not be able to incorporate all of this into your already packed school day, by adding one or two of these activities, you can create equal learning opportunities that are engaging for students (and fun, too).
Source: Jamie Klinger-Krebs is the Manager of Digital Design and Copy at Nasco Education. Along with having an extensive background in writing and digital design, Jamie is the granddaughter of a well-respected teacher who taught her the importance of education and the fact that being a teacher is one of the coolest (and toughest) professions there is.