Exciting news: November 8, 2018 will mark the third Boxlight STEM Day (#BLSTEM)! Just like last time, students will work with their classmates in a hands-on, inquiry-based learning event designed to help them learn critical STEM skills and understand how STEM disciplines apply to the world around them. And as before, Boxlight will provide the lab experiment—the event will involve using our wireless Labdisc portable STEM lab, so it’s less “same old classroom activity” and more “exciting new real-world work.”
The event is open to every school that has the Labdisc data logger. No matter where you are, as long as you have a Labdisc, your class can join in the learning fun. This year, students will use the Labdisc to perform simultaneous experiments to observe and measure the light intensity of different light sources. Think about how incredible it will be to conduct this experiment and share data along with other science classes across the US and Latin America!
The Department of Commerce has indicated that STEM occupations are growing at a rate of 17%, compared to 9.8% in other professions. This means there will be more STEM positions available to today’s students than any other field. STEM is now the driving force of our future, and we have to prepare our students for a workplace vastly different from today.
We created this event to raise awareness among local schools and industries about inquiry-based learning and the benefits of STEM education. It’s one of the ways in which we can help students to develop the critical skills that will prepare them for life beyond the classroom, enabling them to be tomorrow’s engineers and innovators. Plus, the Labdisc gives them a taste of the types of tools that they’ll use in a STEM work setting.
Looking to create STEM-focused lessons for your classroom all year long? Here are some tips to help you incorporate STEM learning into your curriculum:
- STEM Lessons Involve Teamwork: Teamwork is a 21st century skill that corporations are looking for when hiring new employees. Create grading rubrics that enhance the use of each student’s skill set during a group assignment, rather than just checking a task as completed. For example, have a worksheet where each member of the team must explain their role and check off the key elements they personally contributed as part of the assignment. This will not only reduce the number of papers you need to grade, it will also help to enforce the idea that when a team works together, great things can be accomplished—including a good grade.
- Incorporate Hands-On Learning: STEM lessons must include hands-on inquiry and open-ended exploration. Like a guide through the wilderness, a teacher’s lesson content should first guide their students through the maze of the unknown, then allow students to control their own ideas and design their own investigations to apply the newfound knowledge. In that way, critical thinking skills are developed.
- Make it Relevant: It is important to remember that when planning STEM lessons, you also need to focus on real-world issues and problems. Students must understand the issue first to learn basic concepts, and then apply the concepts learned in order to innovate.
- Turning Failure Into a Positive: Teachers should retool their lesson planning to include failure as a necessary part of the learning process. Parents, teachers, and even your students often see failure as a negative act. But truth be told, the act of failing creates an opportunity to develop tenacity, grit, and perseverance. Not every student is the golden athlete or wonder mathlete, yet their unique skill sets are equally as important when problem solving.
- Weaving Math and Science Into Your Lessons: STEM lessons should apply rigorous math and science content. Plan time to collaborate with other math and/or science teachers to gain insight into how course objectives can be woven into one of your lessons. Students can then begin to see that science and math are not isolated subjects, and work together to solve problems—adding relevance to math and science learning.
- Get Creative: Use art or agriculture to engage your students in math, history, science, or even music concepts. For example, music can involve agriculture when students learn songs (and the history behind those songs) that field workers sang to help with their task. Mathematics can also interweave agriculture with students calculating the square footage of a field, the percentages of nutrients that need to be placed into the soil, or how much profit is gained from the sale of harvested wheat vs. the expense of planting the wheat. It is all in the approach and not just the content.
I hope you can join us on November 8 for Boxlight STEM Day—sign up today to participate and your local representative will be in touch to provide more details. If you don’t have a Labdisc but want to learn more, visit www.boxlight.com/labdisc.