Bob Wallace, a now retired high school biology teacher in Crawfordville, Florida, was resolute in his goal that his students graduate with a full range of academic skill sets and technical knowledge that would prepare them for a successful future. In his over 30 years of teaching, he found that textbooks alone could rarely explain important concepts that kept his students engaged and employed a variety of strategies to explain difficult science concepts to his students. He was consistently on the lookout for options that would keep his students engaged. He stated, “Over the years, I’ve used a lot of different things. I have done drawings on boards, still magnets, and I’ve used beads – the beads go bouncing all over the place and you end up losing all of them.”
I don’t know about you, but my activity levels have definitely decreased this past year. I find that I’m spending more time in front of my PC for work and recreation (video chatting with family and friends, going on virtual tours, streaming channels for shows and movies, etc.). With many children in remote or hybrid learning situations, their activity levels are also decreasing as it has become easier to move from one place to sit to another place to sit (i.e. chair to sofa). Besides allowing for more physical activity during breaks (run outside for 15 minutes, 5-minute stretches every hour, 60-minute lunch and recreation break sans devices), learning should also incorporate more movement. In addition, with the push for more hands-on STEM integration, students having to school at home need a viable option for STEM learning besides online games and interactive worksheets.
Happy Computer Science Education Week! Thanks to technology, there are so many wonderful and engaging ways to teach computer science concepts. From sensors and online coding to robots and 3D printers, educators have more tools than ever to help. Sometimes, though, all these tools can be a bit overwhelming. While many educators utilize technology tools independently, they are best used when integrated together. Just like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is not four completely independent subjects without overlap, the use of robotics, 3D printers, and sensors shouldn’t be used in isolation either. So, here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you’re making the most of your technology tools.
Many teachers are struggling with how to address STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) topics in this time of social-distancing and remote-learning. Even for schools that are meeting in person, many of the hands-on lesson plans that teachers might have previously utilized are incredibly challenging under distancing and cleanliness guidelines. After all, who really has time to sanitize every block in a base-ten-blocks set between students? No one.
Distance and hybrid learning environments are particularly tricky for engineering, design, and art teachers. Unless you can send packets of activity-specific supplies home with your students, you have to be flexible and work around the resources available in each student’s home, which can vary greatly. You can’t always rely on students having paints, construction paper, or popsicle sticks readily available. Even what were once household staples like paper-towel rolls may not be available in some eco-friendly households that only use reusable cloths. So how can educators provide a complete STEM course with these variables in mind?
If you want to learn modeling, MyStemKits STEAM Design Challenges are definitely the way to go about it. The activities guide you step-by-step through the process of creating a variety of objects, while equipping you with the skills necessary to build your own unique constructions. To supplement that collection of resources, MyStemKits has assembled a general “tips toolbox” of things to consider and strategies to employ for successful 3D modeling.
Neil Armstrong and landing on the moon. The space shuttle Challenger. The International Space Station. Pictures of ice from the Mars rovers. These are the different things that come to my mind when thinking of space exploration and education. These are topics that have probably been discussed, researched, and studied in classrooms everywhere. But how often is space exploration a part of student learning?
This pandemic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Schools are working towards creating an environment where students can learn at home by equipping them with the necessary technology to make the “virtual classroom” a reality. Unfortunately, STEM learning doesn’t appear to be a focus and it needs to be.
Eons ago, when I was in elementary school, we did a unit on fossils and their importance on understanding how prehistoric plants and animals lived. I was fascinated and for a brief moment in 4th grade, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I would stare at all of the pictures of the different fossils and dream about going on a true-blue dig and discover something cool like a fossil from a mammoth or saber tooth tiger. Of course, I never did become a paleontologist instead choosing to teach because that feeling of excitement when I learned something new was one I wanted all young learners to experience. But I do wonder if my teacher had the technology to make different fossils for closer study maybe I would have chosen the paleontology path.
Do you remember the first time you made a paper airplane? Who taught you to fold one? Did your plane fly? I think I was about 6 years old and my uncle visiting from the Philippines showed me how to fold one using one of my homework sheets. I was fascinated as I watched him make the folds, ensuring that each fold was precise, explaining each step. Then he took the newly built paper airplane, lifted his arm, and – whoooosh!-- it flew across my living room. It worked!! This was my first exposure to science and engineering, and it was one I often repeated throughout my elementary school years – design, construction, and test flights to identify the “perfect” paper plane. I was doing STEM before STEM was part of our educational vocabulary! Well, today is National Paper Airplane Day and this is the perfect time to explore the different areas of STEM with one activity.