STEAM Up the Learning to Inspire Inquiry, Critical Thinking, and Problem-solving
"[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world." - Barack Obama, Former U.S. President
Get your copy of Hacking Digital Learning, The 30 Goals Challenge, or Learning to Go. Ask me about training your teachers, ShellyTerrell@gmail.com!
Many of the missions in my new book, Hacking Digital Learning with Missions, are aimed at inspiring students to think critically, focus on questions versus answers, conduct hands-on research, and make a difference in the world with their innovations. The field of Science, Technology, Engineering, ART and Math (STEM/STEAM) is at the heart of innovation, discovery and curiosity. Sadly, many learners, especially minorities and females, aren't pursuing careers in STEM fields, because they don’t see themselves as problem-solvers or innovators. One reason is too many curriculums encourage learners to produce answers. The main assessments for schools are multiple choice tests, which punish learners if they don't choose the right answer provided from a list of narrow options. Providing answers kills the drive to intimately investigate a problem and fall in love with the journey and process of discovering solutions. In the real world, those who transform the world spend a lifetime investigating solutions for problems they are passionate about. Often, they leave records about their research and ideas so that others continue the journey to finding solutions. Below, find STEAM based activities and resources to help inspire your students to enjoy research and inquiry.
Ideas and Resources
- These are 6 characteristics of a great STEAM lesson I've adapted from EdWeek:
- Connect & integrate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math
- Real world learning
- Hands-on inquiry
- Cooperative learning
- Multiple right answers
- Engineering Design Process (EDP)
- Find web apps and tools for students to design innovations in my article, Mock It Up! 9 Tools for Learners to Design, Blueprint, and Visualize Their Innovations.
- Students work in small groups or pairs to design an area/ride/equipment/feature for the following- an amusement park, an art history mini-golf course, and a playground.
- Playground STEAM:
- Students can study the math and physics of the slides, swings, or other playground equipment.
- Students can measure their shadows at different times of the day. Get them to bring in other objects and draw what they predict the shadows will be depending on the time and location.
- Get them to test different distances and angles with their bodies playing different sports to improve their game.
- Group students to experiment with designing and testing out their designs for creating kites, paper airplanes, rockets, or ships.
- Send them on field research. In Texas, I’d take my students collecting water samples with SAWS engineers, bird watching with park rangers, and fossil hunting with a paleontologist.
- Math Science Music has several lesson ideas and interactive resources for a variety of ages that use music to teach math concepts.
- Desmos has several cool interactive and visual lesson ideas and resources for students, like this one about angles, graphing, and basketball.
- Citizen science is defined by Oxford Dictionary as scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.
- Find projects open to students and the public at SciStarter.com, Zooniverse.org, and the iNaturalist iOS/Android app.
- What’s involved?
- Some require registration and others don’t. All are free to register.
- Some projects take a few minutes, while others take longer.
- Some projects require outdoor data collection (field research) and others are completed online.
- Students contribute in many ways, including by completing surveys, transcribing, playing online games, collecting measurements, archiving, reading maps, identification, and much more.
- Students are given tutorials with instructions and examples so they know how to complete the task.
- Students are also given toolkits with tools to assist them in their research. These toolkits might provide maps, keys, programs, and more.
- Free zombie graphic novel created by the Center for Disease Control, which teaches learners emergency preparedness for a pandemic.
- Students can design and make costumes for themselves or for the class zombie movie. Students learn about measurements, chemical reactions, states of matter, and use various tools or technology.
- This can be part of a makerspace activity.
- Get students to use a 3D printer with Edtech Lessons.
- Get students to learn math and science through cooking. Find science recipes here!
- Science Bob’s site - Science recipes for fake blood, slime, and potions.
- Take them on walks exploring the nature around them.They can create digital books classifying rocks, identifying bugs, naming plants and potential uses, or capturing the sounds of various birds. Try EduBuncee to create your digital scrapbooks.
- Students can create magic potions or spells and learn science and math.
- I have created a pair activity you can copy and edit here.
- Students can create games and learn coding! Try Hopscotch or Scratch MIT.
- Get students to design infographics.
- Try the STEM Hollywood lesson plans, to get learners to use science, math, and technology to investigate a haunting or survive a zombie apocalypse.
- Students can create their own augmented reality experiences to encourage peers to explore the great outdoors using Layar, Aurasma, and Blippar.