Let’s Play with STEM
Last month we familiarized ourselves with the organizations that support and drive the STEM efforts in the K-12 realm. The amount of resources available to educate, advise, and train teachers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields are impressive and meaningful.Â The future of this nation will rely heavily on the innovation and problem-solving skills that this generation of students will bring to the international table.
President Obama’s State of the Union addressÂ also included a strong statement supporting STEM: “we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math — the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.”
This month, we will roll up our sleeves and play. By taking a look around at the numerous STEM-based projects posted online,Â educators will find much of the planning that goes behind the scenes of any project, nearly in place (a little tweaking to fit your unique classroom is all that is required). K-12 teachers from not just North America, but Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia have joined this effort to share their ideas so that classrooms all over can reap the benefits of some pretty spectacular projects and activities.
What follows is a list of programs and links that support STEM-based agendas. This is a collection that covers a wide range of concepts; this is merely a small selection as compared to what is available on the Web. Skim through and find an activity or project that will work in your classroom. Take a look on your own – a quick search brings up a plethora of lesson ideas and explorations. Post what you find here. Tell us how a STEM activity in your class went; what worked? What didn’t? What did you add or change?
- Science Buddies – helps parents and teachers to find science-based projects that match classroom and curriculum needs; use the survey to help this tool make recommendations for you.
- Robotics (from Science Buddies) – use drinking straws to make robots,Â use a model boat propeller to make an underwater robot, design creepy zombie robots, explore the artistic side of robots, and much much more.
- The Why Files Interactives – where students can fine tune the ‘sweet spot’ when whacking a baseball, alter the effects of humidity and temperature in order to create the perfect snow flake, work with sound and light refraction to create the biggest lightning boom, and more.
- Girl Start – (and not just for girls) engages students in a variety of projects including an asteroid lander mission, secret messages using circuits, and making turbines to study wind energy.
- Estes – has been entertaining rocket enthused kids and adults alike for over 50 years; their Web site hosts plenty of project ideas to use along with their rockets.
- Evil Mad Scientist – create a bristlebot using inexpensive objects (use the Science Buddies guide) or assign a ‘dazzle camouflage’ research project.
- Make – posts a vast list of projects and ideas such as automata, morphology of human hair, banana oxidation as art, firefighter foam, and plenty more. Read the Makerspace page and consider implementing something like this in your classroom.
- Follow Fast Company (check into getting school or even class subscription)- they continuously report on the most mind-blowing projects; check out these cars that high school students developed that can get up to 3,587 miles per gallon!
- Science Fair Project Ideas from LiveBinders - the latest social network for educators looking to share successful science explorations.
- Pinterest even has aÂ link devoted to STEM Projects – watch as more and more educators ‘pin’ their STEM-based project ideas online.
- Discovery Young Scientist Challenge – sponsored by 3M and Discovery Education, this annual contest features some of the top science explorations by students. Look through the archives to see what other students have done in the past.
- Science of Everyday Life (Discovery Education and 3M) – students can explore the various interactive features in ‘Innovation Exploration’, ‘Virtual Labs’, and then ‘Travel through Time’. Make sure to check out the additional Science Fun projects.
- PBS Learning Media (sign up for a free account) – posts activities and projects by grade; thousands of links that contain video, interactive content, and complete lesson plans devoted entirely to the science fields are available.
- Discover magazine – this is an excellent secondary level online magazine where students can read about current events in the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Encourage students to read this and other science-based journals such as the Science Daily, New York Times Science section, Popular Science, and Science.
- PhET (University of Colorado) – vast collection of Interactive Simulations.
- The New Yorker Science and Tech – fantastic journal with up-to-the-moment science stories and studies into off-the-beaten-path topics such as the science of fear, brain pains of football players, and bomb forensics.
- Siemens and Disney’s Spaceship Earth – variety of games where students find ways to utilize earth friendly technology to ensure a sustainable future.
- KidWind – while the site does sell science kits, it offers a number of free lesson and activity ideas; great starting point for environmental science projects.
- iRobot DNA -Â robots intrigue kids of all ages (adults too) and today robots are at the center of functionality and application; this link offers plenty of examples of robots used in real world scenarios and including excellent links about the history of robots.
- Gooru Learning – amazing collection of content helps teachers to pinpoint lesson ideas for a vast range of STEM-based topics.
- TED – one of the most cutting-edge collection of innovators and entrepreneurs where big ideas are happening now; students can find out more about haptics,Â smartphones that can be your personal friend, reversing the annoying mosquito and making them actually helpful, and even what to do with poo once it is flushed!
- STEM Education Coalition (it’s free) - If you have not already checked out the consider signing up for the newsletter now – the e-newsletters arrive about once a week and they are chock full of resources and projects. Review the STEM resources from last month’s (April) issue for additional organizations and companies that back the K-12 STEM efforts.
Take a Break
If you have been playing with one of these STEM projects shared here, let us know how it worked for your classroom. Tell us why it worked and how it could have improved. Did you create your own unique STEM project? Educators from all over are eager for your ideas and feedback!
Up Next: Next Generation Science Standards!
STEM Education Coalition
The Why Files
Evil Mad Scientist
Science Fair Project Ideas
Pinterest - STEM Projects
PBS Learning Media
New York Times – Science
The New Yorker Science and Tech
Spaceship Earth – Siemens and Disney