What is S.T.E.M. and why should I teach it?

What is STEM

What is S.T.E.M.?

S.T.E.M. is an abbreviation for Science Technology Engineering and Math. It is not a particular method or way of teaching, but more of a movement to integrate these subjects into the curiculum with real-world, problem-based activities. S.T.E.M. in education is not about adding something new to your lesson plans. Instead, it is teaching science and math in creative and hands-on ways. Often, you will find S.T.E.M. projects synonymous with engineering projects, and while great in and of themselves, engineering projects are just part of the big S.T.E.M. picture. You will also see the acronym S.T.E.A.M. which is S.T.E.M. with “A” added. The A stands for arts and encourages  an integration of all of the arts, language arts–reading, writing, drama, as well as visual arts and design.

Why should I teach S.T.E.M.?

Here are my Top 10 reasons for focusing on S.T.E.M. in the elementary classroom:

1. Real world application–how many times do your students ask you, “Why are we learning this?” S.T.E.M. projects help answer that question by encouraging students to use math and science to solve real-world problems. Perhaps they are using area and perimeter to design a zoo blueprint or planning a vacation using math and critical thinking. Many S.T.E.M. projects offer the skills in a real-world context.

2. Problem solving–Students practice solving problems that don’t necessarily have a single “right” answer. They practice trial and error and how to come up with creative solutions. They get to practice divergent thinking and adaptability. These are all skills that can be applied in all areas of life.

3. Hands On--Students learn by doing, and with many S.T.E.M. projects, students are using tools and science materials. They are solving problems or constructing structures, not just reading about them or answering questions.

4. Differentiated Instruction at its finest–Since there can be any number of possible solutions, most S.T.E.M. activities are naturally differentiated. Everyone can solve the problem to the best of his or her own ability. Sometimes you will find your students who are not the best traditional students will thrive at S.T.E.M. projects. There is truly a place for everyone.

5. Cooperative Learning–S.T.E.M. projects give students practice working as a team. They learn and solve together, often playing different roles on the team. Teamwork skills are important not just in the school setting but in the “real world,” as well.

6. Access creativity–S.T.E.M. activities give your students a chance to show off their creative side. They will get a chance to think outside of the box and sometimes even use art and design. Your creative students will get a chance to shine.

7. Failure–S.T.E.M. projects give students the opportunity to try a design or solution that may or may not work. With S.T.E.M. projects, they can fail in a safe and supportive environment and learn from their mistakes. After all, many great inventions were made from failures or mistakes.

8. Higher Level Thinking–Students must be able to apply and use their knowledge to solve problems and complete projects. Mr. Bloom would be proud because students are working in the upper tier of the Bloom’s taxonomy.

9. Active Engagement–Students are actively engaged when participating in S.T.E.M. projects. They are not daydreaming or doodling, they are participating, solving, measuring, and doing.

10. S.T.E.M. is the future. As new technologies develop, so do new S.T.E.M. careers. It’s not just doctors and engineers but architects, graphic design, video game programmers, and more. Think of all how our world has improved because of technology and innovation. It is unimaginable what the next generation of S.T.E.M.-ers will create!

 

OK this is all good in theory…but how to I put it into practice in my classroom? I don’t even know where to start!

That’s ok, I got your back…read on.

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Announcing S.T.E.M. Summer Blog Series from More Than a Worksheet!

STEM Summer Series

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I know how it is when the summer comes. We all have the best of intentions when it comes to professional development and planning for next year, but then, well, summer happens. And that’s ok! Teacher, you deserve to take it easy! I’ve decided to create a Summer S.T.E.M. series right here on my blog. I will do the research and all the work for you. All you have to do is read my blog, by the pool, with a drink in your hand. My goal is that at the end of the summer, you will feel comfortable and excited about the idea of teaching S.T.E.M. and you will have some ideas and resources ready to go.

Here are some topics I plan to cover:

  • How do I get started? 
  • What materials do I need?
  • How do I grade S.T.E.M.?
  • How do I fit it in to my schedule? 
  • How much planning does this take?
  • How do I manage behavior?
  • What about my struggling students? 

**Plus, I will be slashing prices on a different S.T.E.M. product from my TpT store each Saturday this summer. (To keep it alliterative…Summer S.T.E.M. Saturday!) Follow my TpT Store to find out the new S.T.E.M. products I post this summer, too! 

More Than a Worksheet on TpT

Where do I sign up?

Well, there’s nothing to sign up for. It is all FREE on my blog. You may want to follow me via email so you don’t miss an update, though! I would love to know your thoughts about this…see below!

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Complete the Survey for a FREE S.T.E.M. product from my store!

I have created a survey so that I can learn what YOU want to know about STEM. Anyone who completes the survey will have the opportunity to choose one of my new Simple S.T.E.A.M. task card products for FREE!

Click here (or on the image below) to get to the survey! 

Summer STEM Series SurveyHappy S.T.E.M. Summer!
Sarah

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