3 Ways Spaces Can Help You Implement STEM: Plans, Portfolio & People
STEM education is intertwining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into curriculum. If you add the arts, its acronym is STEAM. Regardless of age, grade, and content area taught, an educator doesn’t need a title or certification to be a STEM teacher. Students will design or problem solve, improve through feedback, and reflect and share their learning with others.
Most STEM teachers would agree that it takes a willingness to model how we naturally learn through mistakes. There is no need for a huge budget for supplies as students can use what is around them to build something they imagine. Teachers don’t need to go back to school and earn a degree, but there are many STEM teachers sharing what will help us all grow!
STEM prepares our students to meet challenges with confidence. They don’t have to wait to grow up to see its importance. We foster their innate curiosity and help them become critical thinkers. We will always have a need for problem solvers! Students will also gain confidence in using their creative talents and even find talents they never knew they had!
A Great Place To Start
Interested in growing that STEM mindset? A STEM mindset is focused on the process more than the end result. As educators, our feedback matters more than anything when we are trying to help our students iterate on projects.
Our Spaces Team created A STEM Lesson Plan: Cultivating Persistence & Problem Solving Skills to help you and your students get started! In this lesson plan, students will continue to practice persistence and problem solving skills by creating a boat that will float on water. Although this lesson is specifically tailored for Grade 2, it can easily be adapted to suit any grade level K-6.
Adding more STEM to your class curriculum doesn’t have to be painful. In STEAM Math: Stacking Challenge, our Spaces Team brings you a simple lesson that is geared towards middle school grades but is easily adaptable for any grade level. This lesson challenges students to stack as many of a certain item as they can, collect data from their classmates, then calculate the class’s mean, median, mode, and range based on the data set. Students will engage in basic engineering, practice and review an important math concept, and have fun with this hands-on activity!
After checking out this lesson, you might not like it. That’s okay! Did it bring another and better idea to mind? That’s a STEM Mindset you are building and that we naturally do when we are problem solving. We can model this for our students as well.
Can Math and Art really be combined? Yes! In fact, we can find fractals in nature! Fractals are fascinating because they show up everywhere when we start looking for them. Scientists often use the natural world to help solve problems we are facing. But wouldn’t it be fun and memorable to observe, create, and paint them?
In our STEAM Lesson Plan: Fractal Watercolors, you can help your students see the beauty in nature and math! This lesson plan will teach students about amazing, intricate fractals and how they show up naturally in our world. Students will use their understanding of fractals to create a unique fractal watercolor painting. This lesson is for students in grades 6-8, but can be adapted for any grade level.
Showcase Learning with a Digital Portfolio
Whatever you decide to do, educator and STEM advocate, Kylie Burrett, has shared that reflection is also a powerful tool when developing the STEM mindset. She recommends having students journal about the process. Students can develop an online portfolio or notebook with pencil and paper.
The Spaces platform offers a portfolio tool that teachers can use for FREE! Teachers can use Spaces to give feedback, encourage reflection in a way that resonates with each student with a choice of text, video, audio, or sharing links. Teachers can also connect the portfolios with parents, so they are able to stay in the loop!
Get the Family Involved
STrEaM Academy principal Adam Mokelke has great wisdom to share with parents to help be a bridge from home to school. He says, “For parents, at home: Start with things you know and are comfortable with. Projects around the house, building or fixing things, putting things together, cooking and baking. Just be explicit about the science and skills in these things.”
Educator and author Ekuwah Mends Moses, who regularly shares what she and her students are creating and solving with STEM, says, “...many educators and families think they must “buy” #STEM. We are surrounded by natural, authentic, and meaningful STEM opportunities. Reuse, repurpose, repair, redesign, rethink, replant, and regift.”
Stories of STEM
Dr. Jacie Maslyk, educator, author, school leader and speaker, advises, “Read books that focus on failing and persevering through challenges. There’s great children’s books that can start the conversation about #STEM and #STEAM mindsets.”
You can also check out Dr. Maslyk’s books: Big Engineering Experiments for Little Kids and The Fascinating Engineering Book for Kids and STEAM Makers: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in the Elementary Classroom.
STEM Educators to Follow:
Whether you are new to teaching STEM or just desire to grow in this area, connecting with other educators will energize and motivate you! Grow your professional learning network of STEM Teachers!
Here are a few of our favorite STEM follows:
If you are inspired by any ideas we share in this article and put them to use, please tag us! Best wishes to you and your students on your path to incorporating STEM or STEAM.