Category Archives: STEM

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!

The Case for Early Education about STEM Careers

The Case for Early Education about STEM Careers (10 Science Facts & Fictions) was shared with me today at a meeting. This short document summarizes some interesting research on our knowledge and beliefs about scientists and science careers. This could be a useful piece for advocating for elementary science instruction or for use in science education professional development. Enjoy!

NGSS for Today’s Students and Tomorrow’s Workforce

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 4.02.08 PMThe UW Institute for Science & Math Education recently posted a video of Dr. Philip Bell presenting at the 2013 UW Summit on K-12 Science Education.

The presentation is a clear 20 minute overview of the Three Dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards from a contributing author of the Framework for K-12 Science Education.  This could be a great addition to your summer reading (watching) list. I recommend spending some extra time thinking about the slides at:

  • 9:07 (2 major goals of Framework)
  • 9:40 (Attending to Diversity and Equity)
  • 13:00 (Why Focus on Disciplinary Practices?)
  • 17:17 (Cascade of Practices)
  • 19:10 (Synergy across Standards)
  • 19:40 (What you can do to support implementation)

Click HERE if you cannot see the embedded video below.

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


Summer Reading: STEM Lesson Essentials Grades 3-8

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 2.36.32 PMWell, it’s that time of year where the ongoing countdown of number of days to the end of the school year is reaching single digits for most of us. As such I’ll be posting some recommendations for professional summer reading related to science education in the coming weeks.

My first recommendation is a new book titled- STEM Lesson Essentials Grades 3-8 by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, and Michael Comer. STEM Lesson Essentials is a timely, readable, and usable guide to STEM literacy that won’t weigh down your beach bag. (At 178 pages it is slim but packs a punch.) See some specifics below.


  • The Front Matter (chapters 1-5) are essential reading for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of STEM literacy and what it means- Every K-8 principal should read this book!
  • Contains authentic and engaging standards-based STEM activities that a teacher might use in a classroom or that a professional development provider might use in a workshop
  • Chapters are well-written, engaging, and short… perfect for summer reading
  • Makes the case for technology and engineering as central aspects of STEM education
  • Uses the STEM Practices as a central storyline (see p. 38)
  • Includes support on PBL, assessment, and STEM lesson resources


  • K-2 examples would be appreciated (as would High School)
  • Clearer connections on how to obtain some of the materials in sample lessons
  • No e-book version?
  • Easy connection to some online supports- video, links, website, etc

Let me know if you would like to join me in a virtual book study over the summer. I’ve only touched the surface on this great resource.