Category Archives: design/engineering

STEM Practices

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.10.24 AMYesterday I recommended the book STEM Lesson Essentials Grades 3-8 as a wonderful resource for any K-8 teacher looking to dig deeper into understanding STEM education. One of my favorite parts of the book is a simple (yet powerful) page that organizes the Practices of Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics in a way that helps us to make connections between these practices. I’ve adapted it into a one page document with some hyperlinks to source documents. This might be a useful resource of those of you who are building leaders, professional development providers, or teachers looking to design integrated STEM lessons. Enjoy!

STEM Practices 1 pager


Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 7.23.22 PMMy copy of Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators by Margaret Honey and David E. Kanter just arrived today. I’ve given it a good skim and started to read the first few chapters. So far, my impression is that any leader, curriculum director, teacher, professional development provider, policymaker, etc looking to better understand the design process (think engineering) will find this to be a useful read. This is not a book of activities or design challenges but a compilation of chapters and case studies from experts in STEM education. There is a chapter by Dale Dougherty discussing Make Magazine and the Maker Faire movement. Then Phil Bell and Helen Quinn (of Framework for K-12 Science Education fame) contribute a chapter on how designing, making, and playing relate to the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards.

Click there link HERE to preview a copy of Design, Make, Play on Google Books.

One aspect of the book I’m very interested in is the focus on designing, making, and playing versus a focus on “engineering”. Nothing against engineering per se, but engineering may conjure a very specific role/image/career path for many of us. Whereas the idea of designing, making, and playing seems applicable to all learners.

Let me know if you pick up a copy and want to do a “virtual book study” or just share some learnings. Enjoy.

NASA Johnson Style

Just for fun… hope you enjoy NASA Johnson Style (Gangnam Style parody)

STEM-IT: Elementary STEM Resources

Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 7.42.45 PMSTEM-IT is a math science partnership project in Washington state involving ESD 123, ESD 189, and multiple partners. A requirement of the grant is to provide developed resources online. The STEM-IT site currently contains resources for K-5 STEM education that connect STEM literacy, science standards, English/Language Arts standards, and Design Challenges with some common elementary science instructional materials.


The site contains tools for providing professional development on the STEM-IT resources.

The Design Challenges include:

Design Process Graphic 2011 Link to Design Process Graphic
Saving Gaveo City from Flash Flooding Link to STEM It 2012 Land and Water Design Challenge
Electric Circuits STEM Enhancement Link to Electric Circuits STEM Enhancement
Ecosystems STEM Design Challenge Link to Ecosystems STEM Design Challenge
Vandalism at _________Elementary Link to Rocks and Minerals STEM Enhancement

Another great set of STEM materials to add to your bookmarks.

Clarifying What Engineering Education Means for K-12

The Opportunity Equationrecently posted a series of essays/discussions regarding engineering titled- The “E” in STEM: Clarifying What Engineering Education Means for K-12. This post provides a useful overview of the importance of teaching and learning engineering concepts in K-12 and describes some projects that have had success.

This article could be useful in a session of professional development on K-12 engineering or by a district team, school, grade level team looking to develop a deeper understanding of engineering.

Wired Science: Panorama of Every Mars Landing

Wired Science just posted an amateur-created panorama that shows the history of all six successful probe landings on Mars- from the Soviet Mars 3 probe in 1971 to the Viking probes in 1976 up to the more recent rovers. With the current excitement about Curiosity, I think it is important for students to understand the history of these other missions to the red planet.

Caine’s Arcade

Caine’s Arcade is the incredible story of a 9 year old boy who designs and builds an arcade using cardboard boxes and other “found” materials. The site is pretty amazing and you can see the touching short film about Caine (embedded below). The film has so many connections to STEM, social media, and just humanity in general… You can also donate to the Caine’s Arcade Scholarship fund if you choose as well as learn about the Cardboard Challenge. A great example for elementary students of the technological design process (engineering) in action. Highly recommended!