Before we dive into a few elements that ensure a successful STEM lesson, lets unpack what a STEM curriculum is.
STEM is a strategic curriculum based on educating learners in 4 disciplines, these being: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These disciplines are taught with an applied approach and are interdisciplinary. Instead of teaching these subjects separately, STEM merges them into a single educational paradigm.
But it is more than just a grouping of subjects. STEM learning was created to develop scientific underpinnings and deep mathematical skills so that learners can compete in the work environment. Basically, a STEM curriculum creates a set of reasoning, thinking, investigative, teamwork, and creative skills that learners can use in all areas of their lives.
Let’s take a deeper look at the STEM acronym to gain greater insight into this strategy.
Science: Study of the natural environment
Technology: Any product developed by humans to meet a need or want – not all technology is digital!
Engineering: The process of design used to solve problems.
Math: Numbers, quantities, and shapes.
A STEM lesson is similar to a science lesson, complete with experiments. However, if you understand the basics of an effective STEM lesson, you will see there are substantial differences between a STEM lesson and a science lesson.
STEM curriculums focus on real-world problems
STEM classes take on real economic, social, and environmental issues and seek solutions to these problems. Find a problem that your students face in real life, and create experiments to solve these issues.
STEM lessons are guided by the process of engineering design
The Engineering Design Process offers a flexible process that takes learners from identifying a real-world problem, to developing a solution to this issue. Through this process, learners define the problem, conduct research around this issue, develop ideas for solutions to this problem, create a prototype, and then test, evaluate, and re-design these solutions.
This may sound like a typical scientific class, but during the Engineering Design Process, students try their own research ideas, take many different approaches to finding solutions, make mistakes and learn from them – and then try again. The focus is on learning how to develop a solution.
STEM lessons are immersive, hands-on, and open-ended
With a STEM curriculum, the path to learning is open-ended, within constraints of course. Together, learners will communicate and redesign their prototypes as required, and they control their own design and investigations. The work a learner will do in these lessons will be collaborative, and all solutions will be generated by the learners.
STEM lessons are about productive teamwork
Encouraging learners to work together as a team isn’t always easy but it does become easier if teachers work together to implement teamwork, using the same procedures and having the same expectation for learners.
STEM lessons incorporate science and math content that your learners are currently studying
STEM lesson strategically integrates science and math courses. Math and science teachers should collaborate with the STEM teachers, to help them gain insight into what the learners are currently studying. Learners will then see that math and science work together and are not completely isolated topics of learning – they work in unison to solve problems. This will also make them see the relevance of these subjects.
STEM lessons have multiple correct answers and view failure as a part of the learning process
STEM lessons provide a place for multiple correct answers and approaches. It is a learning environment rich with possibilities and creative solutions to problems. Failure is also considered a part of the learning process, a positive step in the right direction to designing and solving a problem.
Masterskill, the Microsoft Educator Platform and STEM training for Teachers
The Microsoft Educator platform includes specific STEM curriculums, and collaboration tools between teachers so that they can share lesson plans, video’s etc:
STEM Professional Development Courses on the Microsoft Educator Community include:
Teach Creative Coding through Games and Apps
Step Up to Computer Science
Hour of Code Facilitation Training
STEM Skype Lessons and Virtual Fieldtrips
The Braid Experience – Stem Thinking
STEM Education: Create mini vehicles from victuals
The inspiration for learning science toys subject in STEM education
Conduct a STEM Project by using Visual Studio
Contact Masterskill for more information