WHY STEM in ECE
STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math), remains a hot topic in education. We know these are the careers of today, and the future. STEM has generally been introduced and offered to students as an elective beginning in middle school. As an early childhood administrator, I realized if we wait to introduce STEM until middle school, our students will miss out on opportunities to develop important skills needed to spark their creativity, interest in STEM, and develop confidence in their STEM abilities. Research shows girls and minorities suffer most when STEM is not introduced until middle school. STEM fields continue to be dominated by white males, this fact has not changed much over the last 30 years!
When implementing STEM on your campus or classroom it is important to consider the space, materials, and lesson design. Yes, you can design STEM lessons on a budget! It is incredible how creative we can get when we do not have money to purchase stuff.
Currently, on my campus, we have a large room dedicated to STEM. The room is divided into four areas (blue, red, green and yellow) that correlate to four STEM challenge rotations. Each week students spend about 1 hour working through two of the challenges. We use a pocket system to keep track of student groups and rotations. The color of each pocket matches the color of the tables at each station.
When designing STEM challenges, we begin by looking at the state standards. From there we brainstorm, research, and come up with our lesson ideas. We use a simple template to make it easy for teachers and students to follow the lesson. When possible, we structure the lesson using the Engineering Design Process, but not all challenges will fit into this format. Here are some examples.
- Scan the QR Code with the iPad
- Listen to the sight word recorded on the audio QR Code
- Find the sight word on the mat
- Code the Beebot to the sight word
Magnetic Race Track Challenge
- Create a race track
- Race a friend using your magnetic car on the track you designed
When presenting on this topic, I am often asked about what materials to buy to get started. Although there are no must-haves, there are some materials I would highly recommend. I will share my top 10 STEM resources in a future post.