So what is the first thing that you need to know to plan a STEM lesson or unit? There are so many elements that will need to be incorporated, but where to start? The answer is not as clear cut as one might think because there are a couple of things that happen in tandem, so the first essential is: The Plan
STEM units are student-centered and teacher facilitated. As a result, they need to be meticulously planned. The vast majority of planning for a STEM unit takes place prior to the unit even beginning. So, all the pieces need to be in place so that students will have all of the tools and resources they need in order to be successful.
The Plan involves selecting a unit or group of curriculum strands that you already teach to use as a basis for your STEM unit. You might select a core unit for your grade level, a group of standards that your students have difficulty with, or even a group of standards that you students find just dead boring. However you decide, you’ll want to make sure that you can make a connection from these standards to a real life issue or problem.
Once you have turned these ideas around in your head, it’s time to think of what exactly the challenge will be. The challenge is a one-sentence (usually) statement that defines the problem for students:
system of mirrors and lenses to direct light through a simple maze to strike targets.
Now that you have laid the the basic plan by selecting your topic and curriculum, you can continue to flesh out the standards you will use and work to specify your challenge statement so that it is clear for students.
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Lane specializes in STEM education, curriculum design and professional development and makes teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.