Tips and Tricks

Making the Right Choices When It Comes to STEM Resources

These 6 resources allow teachers to take the guesswork out of selecting activities that meet STEM criteria and engage students.

There’s no denying the benefits of infusing STEM projects into the curriculum. As students delve into these inquiry-based lessons that utilize problem solving, critical thinking, observation, communication, and a host of other skills, they are gaining valuable strategies to apply to challenges they encounter in the classroom and beyond. When teachers are looking to add these innovative learning opportunities, a reliable collection of resources can help take the guesswork out of whether projects and lessons are truly STEM-oriented.

Designing STEM lessons involves more than pairing kids with a device to solve a math problem during science class. The seven key aspects of STEM lessons that Anne Jolly shares via Education Week include the importance of presenting real-world challenges and allowing students to take the lead in solving them. These 6 STEM resources offer excellent project ideas, strategies, and support for doing just that.

Concord Consortium — The Consortium’s vision includes, “… discovering, developing and disseminating innovative technology for a new generation of STEM-literate learners, workers and citizens.” A visit to this great collection of resources offers teachers the ability to search for STEM lesson ideas by grade level or subject. The free software shared on the site allows students to study energy, analyze data, and explore interactive simulations developed for science and engineering.

Connected Science Learning — This newly launched publication from the National Science Teachers Association offers readers information about effective programs and research surrounding STEM learning. Articles feature stories about real-life students solving real-life STEM challenges and the ideas and resources needed to help make these learning opportunities available to all students. The second edition will be released in November 2016 with a focus on Professional Development for STEM educators.

eGFI — Created by the American Society for Engineering Education, eGFI offers a wide range of resources for K-12 teachers. Teachers are just a click away from lesson plans, classroom activities, web resources, and lots of other up-to-date news and information from the engineering world. As one of the components with which teachers may have the least amount of familiarity, this is a great resource to springboard ideas for meaningful lessons that incorporate all STEM criteria.

Nuffield Foundation — Two project fields are explored through the Nuffield Foundation. Students can engage in STEM activities about the future and explore inquiry projects centered around waste, cars, and climate change. The second field of study was inspired by the Olympic Games and has students connecting with STEM concepts through fitness and sports. While this is a British foundation, the lessons and STEM principles addressed are applicable to teachers everywhere. Resources shared are free and downloadable.

Practical Action — As the name suggests, Practical Action is grounded in its real-world applications. The program was developed to bring global awareness and solutions to fighting poverty around the world. By coupling a wide range of project ideas with a humanitarian component, students are using STEM skills and developing empathy for others. Solutions to global inquiries surrounding water, wind, plastics, and crops are just a few of the extremely real-world scenarios that student can undertake through a Practical Action project.

STEM-Works– This informative site was created to bring all the people that value STEM in education together. Teachers, students, parents, STEM professionals, or anyone else with the STEM bug can find great resources and/or ways to contribute. STEM-Works is filled with high-interest subjects (e.g., crime scene investigation, space, robotics, video games) that engage students and present them with real-world challenges to solve. With great articles, information about careers, and links sharing places to visit and groups to join, students and teachers will have a wealth of resources for the classroom and for the pursuit of their STEM interests.

When it comes to creating a learning environment where innovative thinking abounds, STEM projects are a perfect fit. Through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, students become actively engaged in solving real-world problems and preparing for an ever changing future. These 6 resources offer teachers ideas and strategies for bringing quality STEM learning projects to life in the classroom.

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