STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is huge in education right now. There’s been a big push to have better STEM education, especially for women. But STEM doesn’t have to focus on complex topics such as coding and robotics. You can begin to introduce STEM to your students even in elementary classrooms.
STEM is not meant to only be about equations and technology. STEM lessons should focus on critical thinking, observation, and innovation. You can take it a step farther by considering the debate around STEAM, which brings liberal arts into the fold. The A is meant to address the creative thinking that is necessary for innovative thinking.
With such broad goals it is actually easier to incorporate STEM education into your elementary class than you may have thought.
Why Start Young?
The earlier a child starts to interact with a topic, the more their understanding of STEM topics will grow. STEM isn’t simply a specific skill, but a way of thinking. By teaching students at a young age to think in a STEM-focused way, they’ll be more encouraged to pursue STEM education farther down the line.
Fostering interest at a young age is paramount to keeping students interested as they grow. By showing students that they can succeed at STEM lessons early, they’ll be more incentivized to try and pursue more advanced courses and degrees.
You do not have to re-do your entire classroom structure to integrate STEM into your classroom. You don’t even have to invest in a lot of expensive equipment.
Use STEM Vocabulary in Everyday Lessons.
By adding language that is traditionally used in STEM programs, you are allowing students to become familiar with those words and a specific way of thinking. You can use this vocabulary in any of your lessons, including art, play time, and English.
Here are a few examples:
- Theory – Use instead of “why”
- Experiment – Use instead of “try”
- Observe – Use instead of “see”
- Data – Use instead of “facts”
- Design – use instead of “make”
Technology is extremely important when it comes to STEM education, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Introduce your students to rising technology like iPads and smart phones. Show them that these devices are not just for play, but for education.
Click here for some great technology resources that you can use in your lessons.
Use Inquiry Based Teaching
Instead of leading students through a step by step structured model of learning, allow more room for free thinking. A big part of STEM education is giving students the room to come up with new ideas, try, fail, and try again.
You can support your students without telling them exactly how to complete a task. By forcing them to think on their own, they’ll amaze themselves with the types of solutions they come up with. Students will take more ownership over their own education, which is something they must do in the long run to have successful careers.
Find STEM Activities Online
You don’t have to plan STEM activities all on your own (though you certainly can). There’s thousands of amazing STEM activities out there that you can base a lesson around or add to a lesson you’ve already planned.
There are STEM activities centered around just about every topic, from geometry and chemistry to English and geography. Find a couple you like and try them out with your class.
We’ll be creating a huge STEM resource on our website soon, but in the meantime you can shop by subject on our website to fulfill your STEM needs.