As if distance learning is not difficult enough, adding a focus on STEM makes it nearly impossible. Or does it? STEM might not look the way it did in your classroom, but here are 3 easy ways to keep your kids engaged in STEM while they attend class remotely:
1. Real Time Data Projects
Using real-time data projects through distance learning helps kids connect what they are learning to real-world skills and possible careers. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a collection of classroom-ready data for students in grades 6-12 to manipulate and analyze.
If you’re looking for a more guided real-time data project, try one of the projects from the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE). These projects are for all grade levels and helps kids study a range of concepts from ocean waves to navigation.
Coding can get kids using critical thinking skills without even knowing it. Sites like Scratch offer tutorials that gamify the process and make it fun for kids, especially during distance learning. Other coding games that are totally free are Lightbot where kids guide a robot along a path and Code Monster which more directly teaches older kids how to code. For students with little access to the internet, try CS Unplugged.
3. Rube Goldberg
Another unplugged STEM activity is challenging students to use household objects to create a Rube Goldberg machine. Plus, the entire family can have some fun during distance learning time. In keeping with other STEM projects, criteria and constraints (like the number of ramps, loops, pulleys, etc.) can be identified. For inspiration, try The Spider Killing Machine. (I like this one because he tells how many tries it has taken to get it right and it’s important for kids to realize that not everything works on the first try.)
Bonus: Digital Escape Rooms and Scavenger Hunts
Why not encourage students to create their own distance learning STEM fun? Using software like Microsoft Office or Google Suite, kids have the tools they need to develop a digital escape room or online scavenger hunts to get them interested in a concept or show what they have learned. And for no educational value whatsoever, but a whole lot of fun, try playing Google’s Emoji Scavenger Hunt.