Category Archives: STEM

Tinkering Fundamentals: FREE Online Course

Are you looking for some engaging professional learning for the summer? The Exploratorium is offering a FREE 6 week online course titled: Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning. This course introduces educators to the practices of tinkering and making… which should directly impact our understanding of engineering and STEM concepts.

The course runs June 19th through August 9th. Check it out HERE and see an intro video embedded below.

STEM Integration in K-12 Education

The National Academies just released a short video on the importance of K-12 STEM education. This could be useful for professional development and building understanding of STEM education in the community. See the video embedded below or click HERE. Enjoy!

Science & Engineering of the Olympic Winter Games

NBC Learn, NBC Sports, the National Science Foundation, and the National Science Teachers Association have partnered to provide resources for teaching science and engineering ideas related to the Winter Olympic Games.

Links to Resources: (NSTA will continue to post resources on the NSTA Blog during the games)

Engineers Week: February 16-22, 2014

Engineers Week is February 16-22, 2014 and with lots of attention on STEM education and the Next Generation Science Standards this might be a good time to share some engineering instruction with your students.

The National Science Teachers Association has a list of links to articles, webinars, and lesson plans that are useful for teacher professional development about engineering. There are also ideas for how to engage students in engineering design in the classroom. Click HERE to see the NSTA links.

Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Concussions?

Here is an interesting blog post Using Football Science to Tackle STEM Education by Ainissa Ramirez that incorporates football and science. Seems like a good opportunity for students to engage in science and engineering practices (Asking Questions and Engaging in Argument come to mind)  while also learning about forces and living systems. Check out the video embedded below.

Engaging Girls in Engineering and Labeling the Engineering they Already Do

As the father of a three and a half year old girl, I am constantly immersed in the toys and media that are marketed to young girls. Even though I’m aware of the limiting and inequitable messages promoted by these products they still pervade my household. My daughter loves princesses and ponies.. so I love princesses and ponies. We play with these toys together and we both enjoy this type of play. So are princesses and ponies a bad thing? Should I stop this type of play?

Recently the following video (see below) from Goldiebox has gone viral. I think this is a powerful video that promotes more equitable products and opportunities for girls. But I hope that we don’t lose focus of the bigger problems. I don’t think that toys alone are the problem. I don’t think that a Barbie doll, a pony, or a barrage of pink and purple will “cause” a girl to avoid engineering (or other STEM fields). I think that our own expectations of girls as parents, teachers, friends, etc are a larger factor. The way that we talk (or don’t talk) with girls about everyday science, engineering, and solving problems is critical. We also need to move beyond “construction” as the only type of engineering. Not every girl (or every  boy) wants to build stuff. And perhaps most importantly, I think we need to be better at finding and labeling the everyday engineering that girls might be doing in their own play and helping them to see how this relates to STEM fields.

So here is my attempt to label and call out some of the emerging engineering practices that my daughter might be engaging in.

  • She loves to build with Legos and design “forts”.  These are the “construction” types of engineering practices that she engages in.
  • She creates new “technologies” with paper, glue, and markers.
  • She uses tools for multiple purposes and repurposes tools to use in new ways.
  • She identifies problems in fictional scenarios and authentic settings
  • She develops solutions to authentic problems by collaborating with her imaginary, real, and toy friends.
  • She optimizes habitats for the frogs and other critters she likes to capture and observe
  • She engages with digital simulations (iPad apps) to design and optimize solutions to problems
  • She communicates her solutions using words, pictures, song, and movement

I hope that I’m able to keep the problem-solver in her motivated and engaged. I hope that she will be able to play with princesses and ponies and also be a tenacious and creative problem-solver. I look forward to seeing what kinds of products Goldibox and others will develop to help me to do this.

NGSS: What’s a Teacher to Do?

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 8.12.44 PMMarsha Ratzel has a blog post on the Teaching Channel titled- Next Generation Science Standards: What’s a Teacher to Do?

The post provides some recommendations for how teachers of science can be proactive regarding the NGSS and help administrators and district office personnel be thoughtful in their implementation planning. Enjoy!