There are a variety of ways to integrate STEM in the classroom. The first “baby” steps of getting started can be seen on this infographic which covers tweaking existing lessons and units plus integrating a simple Makerspace. Sample tools for each are given according to what would be the biggest bang for the buck hence flexible in all levels and curriculum. This is just a basic “Getting started” without overwhelming the teacher.
STEM can be integrate into an existing or new lesson controlled by standards, objectives, and selected activities. These lessons can be placed anywhere in a unit plan or scattered throughout. Some teachers like to start their units off with a bang using their standards based STEM introductory lesson. Though not a requirement, many times you find teachers in all levels of education utilizing stations in their STEM lessons. Once comfortable with lesson integration, teachers generally focus on a few units per year to heavily impact with STEM through hands on PBL.
Another way to integrate STEM into a lesson is through the integration of task cards. Task cards are generally related to a particular skill or topic but have room a little more room student control of the learning. This is a middle of the road with half of the learning being directed by the teacher and the other half being directed by the students. Task Cards can also be integrated throughout a unit or some educators mix the structured STEM lessons and the Task Cards throughout a particular unit.
Have you heard of escape rooms? Breakout EDU is the educational version of that. Breakout EDU are ultra-engaging learning games for people of all ages which teach teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve. Now that is what I call 21st century skills at work!
Breakouts are perfect for classrooms and staff trainings. There are numerous K-12 Breakouts already created to be used to teach core academic subjects including math, science, history, language arts and have embedded standards that apply problem solving strategies within a real world OR collaborative context. Check out the BreakoutEDU tab for several resources to aid in creating your own!
Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. The teacher provides a set amount of time for the students to work on their passion projects. Students are then challenged to explore something to do a project over that they want to learn about. They spend several weeks researching the topic before they start creating a product that will be shared with the class/school/world. Deadlines are limited and creativity is encouraged. Throughout the process the teacher facilitates the student projects to ensure that they are on task.
A makerspace is typically the least teacher control STEM integration. Though a Makerspace can be teacher directed using the two above mentioned STEM integrations, most Makerspaces are filled with students in control of their learning. This isn’t something that is easy for the teacher or the students. It takes time and guidance. A typical Library or classroom Makerspace is filled with a variety of resources from robotics to electronics to art. Students use the resources or bring their own and take control of their learning for the set amount of time given. Some Makerspaces are open only during free time, others once per week, and yet others are a monthly reward.