How to Introduce S.T.E.M. Expectations

Introducing STEM and Setting Expectations

This is something you can begin as early as this first day of school. In fact, I encourage you to try to make room in your busy busy first day for this because it can help set the tone for your year. Students will go home excited about STEM!

1. Introduce Expectations

You definitely want to put some thought ahead of time into what your expectations for your students are. Then, create an anchor chart.  Make it with your students, and make it big so you can hang it up and refer back to it through the year. Here is a sample.

engineering expectations

(I never made “cute” anchor charts! I like colorful, and Mr. Sketch markers are my favorite, but I just don’t think in cute. I hope it doesn’t change your opinion of me 😉 If you have a cute one, feel free to share!)

Click here for a transcript of how to introduce your anchor chart.

2. Practice the expectations!

After discussing the expectations, I encourage you to get started right away with a simple STEM challenge. Students will be excited about the upcoming lessons, and it will give them a chance to put into practice what you just talked about. Also, it will give you a chance to praise them and catch them doing great STEM behavior. Here is a simple task that you can try even on the first day of school. It is quick and simple to implement. It is also good for team building and breaking the ice.First Day STEM Idea

first day stem

First Day STEMThese are the only materials you need! Well, and a book and a clock, but I’m thinking you’ll be able to come up with those 🙂simple SteM

Here is a sample column. The paper is folded longways and the rolled into a column.

Simple STEM 2

3. Review expectations often!

As you know, just because you say this stuff one time, doesn’t mean you’re done. This is why you created an anchor chart with your class, so you can refer to it each time you do STEM.

When you are working on projects, catch students who are following directions, and praise them. It doesn’t have to be big or public. Just quietly say to the group, “You know, you all have really been focused on the task the entire time. I like that!” Or “I can tell you are frustrated, but you didn’t give up. I am proud of you.” Gentle, personal, specific praise like that goes a long way with students. They will remember it the next time they are working.

When you are finished, I encourage you to call the class’s attention to specific things that they did well. “I was so impressed the way all of the groups remembered to use the materials as tools.” Or “Everyone was doing such a nice job participating, it makes me want to do more and more STEM projects!”

You may also need to point out things the class as a whole needs to work on together. “I noticed that sometimes your groups had a hard time hearing each other. It was so wonderful to see you so excited about science, but it’s important that we use quieter voices so everyone can focus. Let’s practice!”

When you have just praised them, and you phrase your correction positively, students will be more receptive to it.

Students will need reminders, but they will catch on!

4. Final words of advice

You may be trying something new with your class for the first time. It may be new to you, too. Cut yourself, and your students, some slack if it doesn’t go perfectly the first time. Use it as a learning experience the first time. Once you jump in and try it, you will have a clearer vision of what you and your students need to work on. Each time it will get easier and better! You can do it! (I said so!)


Happy STEM Summer!





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  • Natalie

    Hi there

    This will be my first time conducting Stem in my classroom, is this project recommended for 1st and 2nd graders??


      I don’t have a lot of experience with that age, but I think they could handle it. They may need a little guidance with creating columns.

  • Konveyors As we read, we kept track of what we learned by adding to a simple anchor chart showing the five bridges we were focusing on

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