May 2017: Resources to support STEM

Kathy's Katch

I like this definition of STEM from WhatIs.com:

STEM is an educational program developed to prepare primary and secondary students for college and graduate study in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In addition to subject-specific learning, STEM aims to foster inquiring minds, logical reasoning, and collaboration skills.
I prefer this definition because, in addition to including the curriculum content areas, it emphasizes inquiry, reasoning, and collaboration skills. Not being a science, mathematics, or engineering technology teacher, I won’t be recommending sites to support the curriculum side of STEM in this post, but I will cover the career readiness and skills needed to excel in a STEM career.

ENGINEERING AND INVENTIVENESS

At the 2014 ASEE Annual Conference, Glancy, et. al., presented a paper entitled “Examination of Integrated STEM Curricula as a Means Toward Quality K-12 Engineering Education“. In this document, they outline the components of a quality K-12 Engineering Education curriculum.
  • Process of design:
    • Problem and background: identify the problem and research it
    • Plan and implement: brainstorm solutions, judge the importance, and create a prototype
    • Test and evaluate: create hypotheses and design experiments to test the prototype; reflect and redesign
  • Apply science, engineering and mathematics knowledge: utilize all three disciplines  for  interdisciplinary study
  • Engineering thinking: independent and reflective thinking; learn from failure
  • Conceptions of engineers and engineering: understand what an engineer does
  • Engineering tools and processes: become proficient in engineering processes, techniques, tools, and skills
  • Issues solutions and processes: understand the impact of their solution on the issues and vice versa
  • Ethics: think about the ethical situations in the practice of engineering
  • Teamwork: participate as a contributing team member
  • Engineering communication: Learn how to effectively communicate understandings to others

I have been conducting some workshops surrounding the theory of inventiveness, which targets many of the same aspects as the curriculum above. The University of Iowa holds an “Invent Iowa” event each year, and they simplify the inventiveness process.

  1. Inventiveness involves the ability to brainstorm. (fluency)
  2. Inventiveness involves the ability to think in new and different ways. (flexibility)
  3. Inventiveness includes the ability to add details or missing parts. (elaboration)
  4. Inventiveness includes the ability to make things that are new. (originality)

Take a look at their curriculum guide when you get a chance. It is outstanding!


LITERACY AND STEM

In addition to the use of the disciplines of math, science, and mathematics, there are other projects that tie in literacy as a component of STEM. The PictureSTEM project “includes instructional units for K-2 classrooms that use an engineering challenge and picture books as supports for learning science, mathematics, engineering, computational thinking, and reading”. For instance, the kindergarten lesson has students making paper baskets for transporting rocks. The unit utilizes the picture books “If You Find a Rock”, “I Get Wet”,”Pattern Fish”, “The Most Magnificent Thing”, and “Rocks, Jeans, and Busy Machines”. The students learn about the properties of paper when wet and dry, learn about rhyming words and pictures as well as patterns for weaving, build a prototype basket, test it, and communicate the results to the class.

The Novel Engineering project, for students in grades 3-8, provides students with the opportunity to “use existing classroom literature – stories, novels, and expository texts – as the basis for engineering design challenges that help them identify problems, design realistic solutions, and engage in the Engineering Design Process while reinforcing their literacy skills”.

Here is a sample of a one of the projects:


CAREERS AND STEM

Another area of STEM programs should provide students with the overview of the careers available in the many fields encompassed by the STEM disciplines.

  • KidsAhead: in addition to articles and activities, this site includes a section on jobs in science and math in areas from crime scene investigation to extreme weather to the animal kingdom
  • Cool Science Careers: this Rice University site provides simulated exploration of STEM careers and includes handouts for the teacher to use with the students
  • The Occupational Outlook Handbook: this wonderful reference source compiled each year by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides students with in-depth information about hundreds of jobs. It is a great place for students to browse and learn about STEM occupations.
  • Discover Enginering™: this comprehensive site includes information on the reasons to love engineering, the career outlooks, engineering careers, and what engineers do
  • STEM Career Websites for Students: the Science Pioneers site, a non-profit organization in Kansas City, offers tons of links to more specific STEM career sties for students.
  • Discovery Education Streaming has over 1300 videos and clips for grades K-12 dealing with STEM careers which explore the role of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in their jobs. In addition, there are curated content collections at each grade level range dealing with STEM careers that include videos and images.

Many private organization sites often provide a list of careers that support their particular mission. For instance, the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League), which supports the use of amateur radio worldwide, includes a comprehensive list list of related careers on their site. In addition, they provide a look at what amateur radio as part of a STEM curriculum looks like in a real classroom.

Discovery Education provides professional development in the area of STEM for teachers and leaders as well as the information and ideas in their Math Techbook and Science Techbook. You can find out in depth information about their many programs on this page.

Do you conduct multidisciplinary lessons or units that include the STEM disciplines and other disciplines? Do you have a resource or a method to share to get teachers and/or  students excited about careers in STEM? Please share in the comments!

STEM logo: By Motstravail (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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