One of the obvious traits that Effective STEM Classrooms always have are hands-on challenges that relate or are realistic enough to relate to the real-world.
That’s what keeps students engaged- solving a real problem instead of moving on to page 27 of the text book. Relating the problem to the real-world and providing a hands-on element goes a looonnnnggg way in keeping students interested and learning.
So, where do you find real-world, hands-on, standards-based (and I’m sure I can find a couple more good hyphenated words) resources? Here are some suggestions:
NASA Wavelength– A couple of years ago, NASA sought out to collect all of their education resources under one virtual roof. At the Wavelength site, you can search by terms, audience, topics, etc. that will help you narrow down your search results. While most of these are stand-alone lessons, hopefully one of them will inspire your next STEM Challenge!
Pinterest– If you have self-control (which when it comes to Pinterest, I apparently do not) there are a lot of good STEM Challenges that can be found here. Look for challenges that would be interesting to your students and that are feasible and testable in your particular environment.
Starfish Education– So, of course, I had to put mine in the list 🙂 Go through the pages of all of the posts I have published over the years and hopefully something will stand out. Among the most popular: Brown Bag Challenge II, Teaching STEM through Fairy Tales, STEM Skills Challenges to name a few.
Use Your (or your students’) Own Creativity- Your students are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to problems that need solving. Engage them in a discussion of what is feasible and testable and find a problem to investigate. Plus, by soliciting for their ideas, you’ll have tremendous buy-in since students contributed to selecting the problem.
Finding the right challenges is critical having a successful STEM classroom. Where do you find great challenges for your students?