Another trait of Effective STEM Classrooms is problem solving. For some reason, it seems like as time goes on, students are less determined and give up more easily. In a STEM-centered classroom, that just can’t be!
So, how do you teach problem solving (and by way of that, perseverance and determination)?
My personal go-to is always games. Whenever possible, I love to teach skills through games. One of my favorite places to find some great teaching games that showcase leadership and problem solving is Project Adventure. These folks have been around for more years than I can count and I used their books frequently in my own classroom.
One of the games I use to teach problem solving is called Spider Web. I like it because it presents a seemingly easy problem that proves to be difficult to actually execute.
The Goal: Get everyone on the team from one side of the spider web to the other in the fastest time possible.
The Materials : A pad of sticky notes and a “spider web” for each team. (Make one by purchasing a shower curtain at a dollar store and drawing a giant spider web on it with permanent marker. Be sure to make the cells large enough for feet.)
The Rules: All team members must begin on the same side of the web. No one may step on the web (only in the the cells in between). If someone does step on the web, the entire team must start over. Once someone steps inside a cell and then steps out (leaving it unoccupied) no one else can use it and it will be designated unusable with a sticky note. There may be no more than two feet in one cell at a time.
This is a great problem solving game for adults too. Have fun with it and feel free to modify the rules to make it easier or more difficult for your students!
Lane specializes in STEM education, curriculum design and professional development and makes teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.