Category Archives: STEM

March 2016 NGSS Newsletter

The site posts a monthly newsletter. You can access the March 2016 NGSS Newsletter HERE. You will find information about the new NGSS website, bundling Performance Expectations, thinking about bee colony collapse as a phenomena, and more.


WA State: LASER STEM Education Leadership Institute

Washington State LASER is offering a week-long STEM Education Leadership Institute to be held June 22-26, 2015 in Lynnwood, WA. For registration information and more details about the institute click HERE.

Applications for teams are due April 3, 2015.

Engineering Design Talk Moves

There are lots of great resources for supporting productive classroom talk during science instruction…

But when it comes to engineering design I think we need some different questions and talk moves to guide students as they are collaborating to solve problems. I haven’t found a resource on “engineering talk”… so I created this engineering talk moves document.

This is very drafty and I would love some feedback. What is missing? What is redundant? Does this document even make sense? What needs to be improved to make this document useful for K-12 teachers?

The idea is that this 1 pager would be used by a teacher to guide students’ thinking as they are in the middle of collaborative work to solve an engineering problem.

I look forward to your feedback. Click HERE to download the document.

Report- STEM Integration in K-12 Education

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 4.56.07 PMThe National Academies Press recently released a new report titled- STEM Integration in K-12 Education:Status, Prospectus, and an Agenda for Research. Like all of the publications from the National Academies, this is FREE to download as a pdf. Click HERE to access the download or read FREE in your browser.

Below is the description of the report from the Academies site:

STEM Integration in K-12 Education examines current efforts to connect the STEM disciplines in K-12 education. This report identifies and characterizes existing approaches to integrated STEM education, both in formal and after- and out-of-school settings. The report reviews the evidence for the impact of integrated approaches on various student outcomes, and it proposes a set of priority research questions to advance the understanding of integrated STEM education. STEM Integration in K-12 Education proposes a framework to provide a common perspective and vocabulary for researchers, practitioners, and others to identify, discuss, and investigate specific integrated STEM initiatives within the K-12 education system of the United States.

Looks like another good report to add to our toolbox of understanding integrated STEM education and to provide some specific frameworks and tools for implementing.

Engineer Girl

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 8.45.24 PMIt’s been over four years since I first posted about Engineer Girl on this site… and I think it’s time for a reminder of this excellent resource.

Engineer Girl is a site sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering with the goal of promoting and encouraging young women to learn about engineering as a career. With the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards and a clear focus on K-12 engineering instruction- Engineer Girl may provide some useful resources to K-12 teachers. Here are some of what’s available:

  • Multiple stories of women describing their work in engineering fields
  • Several interviews with female engineers
  • Descriptions and videos of what engineers do
  • Ideas for how to get involved in engineering


Rosie Revere Engineer: Teaching Engineering with a Picture Book

As a former elementary teacher, I love to use picture books to teach students. Nowrosie revere I use picture books for teaching pre-service and in-service K-12 teachers about science and engineering. My new favorite picture book for teaching engineering is Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty. This book makes a perfect companion to another favorite Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin. (See previous post on Those Darn Squirrels HERE.)

Rosie Revere Engineer is the story of a young girl who is afraid of failure but is eventually encouraged to share her inventions by her great-great aunt Rose. This book teaches us about collaboration, failure, and persistence (grit). I can imagine this book being a cornerstone of a lesson on establishing norms for engineering tasks.

I will be putting together some lesson plan ideas for this picture book (and others) over the summer …so stay tuned. HERE are some lesson ideas provided by the author.

Below is a video of a Rosie related project sponsored by STEM Outreach NIU… unfortunately, this video does not use the Engineering Design process from NGSS.


Using the Ketchup Cap in Engineering Professional Development

The story of Tyler Richards and Jonathan Thompson and their invention of a new ketchup bottle cap has gone viral in engineering education this spring. I wanted to share how I’ve been using this story in professional development with K-12 teachers.

PBS has a short blog post that is the perfect length for a quick reading. (See the post HERE.) The post provides the story of how these two students identified the problem (“wet bread is gross”)  and eventually solved it.

I like to use this story after teachers have some familiarity with the Engineering Design Process from the Next Generation Science Standards:Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.09.57 AM

  • Define the Problem
  • Develop Solutions
  • Optimize Solutions

I simply ask participants to read the article and identify where the students are engaged in the 3 components of Engineering Design. Then we do a quick partner share and whole group debrief. Here are some findings that teachers have shared:

  • There was a lot of time spent Defining the Problem
  • Maybe we (teachers) need to provide more authentic opportunities for students to Define the Problem.. sometimes we just give students the problem predefined
  • The students developed a lot of solutions before starting to optimize
  • The students had to engage in argument from evidence throughout this process. In other words, argumentation isn’t just a science practice.. it’s an engineering practice also

The blog post gives teachers an opportunity to identify components of Engineering Design and make sense of some of the shifts in the NGSS. I hope you find ways to use this engineering story with students and teachers. Please share back what you’ve tried. A video of the ketchup cap invention is embedded below.