Elementary/Middle School/High School
Are you excited about National STEM Day on November 8th? Well, at Ward’s we’re geeking out big time.
As a science teacher, you know how important your kids’ STEM education really is. Science, technology, engineering, and math (some add the arts to the list to make it “STEAM”) are in high demand in economies across the world.
Thankfully there are plenty of simple, inexpensive ways to promote STEM in your classroom. Get ready to celebrate National STEM Day with these fun ideas and inspirations. And of course, you’re welcome to celebrate all year round.
1.“Humanitarian of the Year” Inventions
Ask your students to think up a cool invention that could help humankind and have them draw a prototype—or simply explain it. Is their invention a better way to cultivate plants … an app with a peculiar way of enticing people to exercise … or maybe a new transportation idea? This lets your students identify problems and imagine ways they could help society through technology. You can even kick off the activity with stories of great inventors from the past. That should get their creative gears turning.
2. Building Bridges
Let your students construct bridges, towers, and buildings galore—whether with a bunch of Legos or everyday items such as marshmallows and toothpicks. Have them discover the variation in structural stability among different design choices. This is a perfect activity for an introduction to engineering. Or go medieval and teach gravitational potential energy with a pulley and a ping pong ball.
Garage Physics MURLIN Trebuchet
Explore how the use of a simple machine (pulley) efficiently redirects gravitational potential energy to throw objects farther than a traditional trebuchet.
3. STEM Everywhere
Have your students scan through their lives and identify STEM-related items, facts, or conditions. Then they can make posters or collages—or simply do a write up if they prefer. This really gets them in that mode of observing STEM elements all around them. What is STEM to them? Is it the cell phone that connects them to their friends? The microwave that makes mealtimes a breeze? Do they see math beyond the textbook? Do they see engineering in their car? See what examples your kids come up with—they might surprise you with their creativity.
4. Makerspace Wish Lists
Have a makerspace or thinking of starting one? A makerspace is a physical space in the classroom dedicated to making things. A lot of teachers are adding makerspaces to their classroom to increase student-based inquiry and engagement. Have your students make “shopping wish lists” of items they want in the makerspace and post these lists on the school’s Facebook page. Ask students what materials they’d like to see in their makerspace, and see what projects grow!
5. Hot off the Press
How about current events? Have your students pick an article in the news related to STEM and discuss it with a partner or in a circle. Make Jules Verne proud and ask them the question, “What stuff today sounds like science fiction but is totally real?” You could also have them pick out ads for different technologies and speculate on how those technologies work.
6. Crazy Circuits
Robotics is all the rage. Many students would go crazy over a Crazy Circuits Robotics Kit. This set can be used to teach circuitry and programming and is compatible with Lego and similar brick building systems. Create robots or interactive displays using the provided servo motors. No soldering required!
Crazy Circuits Robotics Kit
Learn the fundamentals of Arduino programming and design.
7. Calling All “Math Heads”
How about number games? These can be an easy add-on to your lesson plans. Grab a jar of marbles, and see which student has the closest estimate. You can talk about the method used to guess. Did they use a limiting case or base their guess on volume, or was the answer plucked out of thin air? A more sophisticated variation of this game is the Fermi problem—for example, “How many McDonalds are in America?” and “How many drops of water are in the ocean?” You can see who’s the closest in order of magnitude, or allow the class as a whole to work out strategies to get an accurate estimate.
8. What Would Newton Do?
Do your kids like to shoot projectiles across the room? Without a doubt. If they need a way to release some pent-up energy (and what kid doesn’t?), give Garage Physics Projectile Motion Sling Shot a shot. This can be used to teach about projectile motion and offers an easy opportunity for learning how to set up an experiment.
Garage Physics Projectile Motion Sling Shot
Explore projectile motion writ-large with a rubber-band slingshot!
Take this list as a source of inspiration. There’s really an infinite ocean of ideas you can dip into for STEM ideas year round—with just a bit of creativity.
National STEM Day comes once a year, but the knowledge your students gain and the skills they develop will last a lifetime. Build a positive relationship between them and STEM subjects. It doesn’t have to be hard, but it can be loads of fun (yes, STEM really CAN be fun!)
As always, if you have any questions about STEM or anything else, just ask the Ward’s Science Plus Us team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our in-house scientists and technicians are ready to answer even the toughest inquiries.