Graded has just hosted a STEM Institute with Wesley Fryer, where teachers from around the region and from Graded itself were able to have hands on experience with STEM projects, and consider how those can be integrated in the curriculum. You can access the program with all the links for activities and resources from Wesley Fryer workshop at STEM Institute March 2016.
What is STEM and why it matters?
You may have heard about STEM and STEAM, but not be sure about what it really means, why it matters and how it might be integrated in the school structure. STEM stands for “Science Technology Engineering Mathematics” and STEAM is the same acronym just adding A for Arts., which means having an artistic design to STEM projects. The video below provides some clarifications.
We can say that STEM is the more structured curriculum end of a spectrum that started with the Maker Movement, which encourages hands-on making with any type of material or technology. The excerpts below from different sources can give you an idea of why STEM and Maker Movement are important for kids and education:
“Classrooms that celebrate the process of design and making, which includes overcoming challenges, produce students who start to believe they can solve any problem. Students learn to trust themselves as competent problem solvers who don’t need to be told what to do next.”
“Preliminary research on successful STEM schools indicates that cultivating partnerships with industry, higher education, nonprofits, museums, and research centers is important for engaging students in STEM learning through internships, mentorships, interdisciplinary project-based learning, and early college experiences.”
“Students who learn science or technology through project-based learning also report that they find it more engaging than traditional instructional techniques.”
As Graded is adopting Next Science Generation Standards (NGSS) to support the Science curriculum in the Upper School, opportunities to integrate STEM projects will become more apparent. NGSS includes both Science and Engineering Design standards or what they call STEM standards, for example for the High School:
HS.ETS1-3 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Here are some of the hands-on projects that we were able to work on at the STEM Institute. All the projects involved simple material like cardboard, tape, straws, ice cream sticks, etc. It was amazing to see the different ways of solving the challenges proposed, and how we all felt accomplished.
Marshmallow and Straw Structure Challenges
Here are the instructions and ideas for the Catapult Project.
Prosthetic Hand Project
Here ate the instructions and hook for the Prosthetic Hand Project.
Sharing as a key part of STEM
In the Maker Movement, and all its variations like Fab Labs, Hacker Spaces, etc, sharing what you create is key. During the STEM Institute, Wesley Fryer demonstrated several strategies for quickly and easily sharing work within the classroom and also with the bigger world.
Here are some of the free iPad tools shared at the Institute:
Voice Record Pro was used in class to enable reflection from each team: See video on Reflections on the Marshmallow Challenge that was also tweeted, with all the other events in our Institute.
See also video on Catapult Launches at the STEM Institute: