STEM in the classroom is always changing because STEM fields like technology and science are constantly changing in the real world. STEM career fields are always adapting to the changes in research and development. Because of that, we should change our STEM practices to prepare our students for a future in STEM. Not only is STEM the future, but teaching and growing STEM skills allows students to better understand problem solving, motivation, grow from real-life situations and develop a passion for STEM.
Since STEM is so very important in our classrooms, engaging our students (and keeping them engaged) in STEM is something that we all need to focus on to be sure they have and grow that passion. Here is a list of seven things that will make STEM more engaging for your students (or keep them engaged)!
1. Make it Competitive
Students love competition! Making STEM lessons and games competitive with a prize will engage students in STEM related lessons or games. Even if the prize is something simple like no homework. Try incorporating games, engineering challenges, or competitions into your STEM lessons (e.g. who can engineer the tallest tower out of marshmallows and toothpicks?)
2. Build a Makerspace
Makerspaces are a new movement where there are STEM stations set up so that students can make and create in their own time. Countless libraries all over the world have started setting up a makerspace in their libraries to encourage creativity, problems solving, tinkering and STEM. The makerspace area is an area where different STEM materials are set up and students are able design, create and explore their own different designs. You could have circuits, 3D pens, building blocks, cardboard creations, Strawbees, and so much more! Having a makerspace can encourage and engage students to be creative in STEM since much of the learning in these spaces happens on their own terms.
3. Be Hands-On
Having STEM lessons that are hands-on rather than just a “sit and get” will have students more engaged. Even as adults, meetings that we just sit for hours not moving or doing anything will naturally cause us to be bored. Having students actually get to explore and learn with the materials will make STEM so much more fun and engaging for students.
4. Play STEM Games
Students love games, even games that are played either alone or in a group. Just as making lessons competitive, students love to play STEM games. The students are learning through play and do not even realize it. Try puzzles to build skills like logic, spatial reasoning, and sequencing or a board game that helps with problem-solving and strategy. All of these skills are crucial for those entering the STEM workforce.
5. Do STEM at Home
To encourage parents’ support of STEM and to make STEM more engaging for students, send STEM projects home to complete as a family. This will promote not only family bonding but will show parents what STEM is so that they can be more involved in motivating students’ participation in STEM in the classroom.
6. Exercise Teamwork
Create STEM challenges (much like the ones that are found on STEM Universe) that require students to work together to complete. Having students work together to complete a goal can help students who might struggle in certain areas. Teamwork is also found in STEM careers. It’s important for students to learn how to work together in this type of setting.
7. Find Mentors
Finding STEM mentors that can come into your classroom or library to encourage STEM is huge! When students see a successful STEM professional they are inspired to follow a career in STEM. Reach out to any local company and ask; many companies love to collaborate with local schools!