How often do you provide students with opportunities to solve real world problems? I believe this is one of our most important roles as educators today. You can learn more about my process by reading my prior post The Power of Student Challenges. Every year, 3M and Discovery Education make it easy for me to continue fostering these types of learning experiences through the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Here are some of my learnings from participating.
The first year we attempted the 3M Young Scientist Challenge I threw out the challenge to my students with limited time to work on what I would call “real” STEM activities. It was a bit bumpy, because though I felt I had a clear understanding of STEM, I was not completely sure what guidelines to set, how to assess, or even where to start. It was a bit overwhelming. The resources from the 3M Young Scientist site were able to provide me a scaffolded approach.
There are a lot of resources available with the “STEM” label on them, but it is often difficult to decide which activities are best suited for my students. I evaluated the STEM materials with our Gifted Laboratory’s motto and principles in mind, “We are a laboratory, NOT a factory.” We believe it is super important that students are given materials, task, and guidelines, but not a complete layout on how to complete the task. This means there will be more than one way to complete a task and students will have to think critically. Thanks to Discovery Education and 3M, I have been able to access a substantial amount of wonderful STEM Activities that not only serve as a great springboard for The 3M Young Scientist challenge, but also as problem solving activities.
We have utilized many of the Student Activities found on the actual 3M Young Scientist website and the STEM Career Challenges found within Discovery Education. It’s challenging to know what the future holds for our students, but allowing them to explore STEM careers with these resources will give them a critical look into their future.
I’m thankful that 3M and Discovery Education have partnered together to help promote problem solving with their challenge and STEM Activities to expand my students’ ideas for their future careers.
It’s not too late. Learn how to challenge your students by visiting the 3M Young Scientist Challenge site.
Written by: Francie Snyder