STEM Files

Best-Practices in STEM

Have you wondered how to create a best-practice STEM lesson or unit?  Isn’t STEM what we would just call good teaching? Best-practice STEM units are a carefully woven blend that creates a rigorous and memorable learning experience for students.  When we look at any well-crafted STEM lesson or unit, we see similar components:

Real-World Problem Solving

STEM in it’s purest form is cross-curricular problem-solving.  STEM professionals practice this every day, from designing and building an aircraft engine, to developing a strategy to send a rover to Mars, to creating cell phone apps.  Each time we can mimic a real-life issues in the classroom, it gives students a glimpse of their possible future.

Solid Content Knowledge

Content knowledge is certainly an important component and not having an omniscient ability in this department makes many teachers uncomfortable.   In a best-practice STEM model, researching these nuances and details rests with the students.  It is the job of the teacher to be the facilitator throughout the process and furnish the students with supplies, materials, tools, and resources, so that they can become more self-reliant learners.

High-Interest/ Hands-On Activities

Anytime students can get their hands dirty (literally or figuratively) the better they will remember and retain the concept. We’re constantly reminding our students to pay attention, participate more in class, and be more involved in their own learning, but how would you do sitting through what amounts to a 7 hour lecture?  Adding hands-on elements help keep students engaged, alert and learning at full capacity.

Effective Teaching

Who doesn’t want to be an effective teacher?  With so many strategies, methodologies and technologies available, there are many ways to create engaging lessons.  Because STEM is project-based, students are active learners and focus on researching elements involved in the given challenge.  That places the teacher in a position of facilitator, allowing them to more directly address the needs of each team.

What other common components do you see in your favorite STEM units?

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