STEM, the acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math, is a hot topic and main focus for educators across the country and around the world. At every level and in every subject, engaging activities that spur curiosity and hone problem-solving skills are essential. However, despite the value and importance of STEM activities in our modern day classrooms, it can still feel intimidating or overwhelming to develop a STEM lesson for the classroom, whether you teach math and science or literacy and art. In celebration of Computer Science Education Week 2018 (CSEdWeek), here are a few ways teachers in elementary and secondary education can easily infuse their curriculum with a dash of STEM, a spoonful of creativity, and a whole lot of energy.
Jump In for an Hour of Code
During CSEdWeek (Dec. 3 - 7), students will be participating in Hour of Code, a worldwide effort to get online and get programming. More than 180 countries have signed up to take part in a variety of computer science and computer programming activities. If your school or classroom has access to a computer, an Hour of Code event is easy to set up, offering students the chance to practice digital literacy skills and connect in a unique way to a global student audience. Khan Academy also provides teachers a handy “How To” resource for Hour of Code that is sure to get even the busiest of teachers started coding in the classroom.
Say “Yes!” to Errors and Unexpected Learning
Winston Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” It is important for educators to model a passion for discovery AND how to embrace mistakes and failures. Chelle Hendershot, on the Beneylu Psst! blog, emphasizes to teachers that if “it doesn’t go like you had planned, use that as a lesson, too. STEM is all about trial and error. The students learn just as much, maybe even more during flops.” She suggests starting small and assess what you are already teaching, then ponder how those lessons could be presented as a problem or a question, which would allow students to research, explore, and solve. Some educators even keep an “Oops!” chart in their classroom, highlighting memorable mistakes, or have students keep an ongoing journal where kids can reflect on their successes and the moments where things didn’t go the way they expected.
Reach Out and Ask for Help
For any teacher embarking on a STEM lesson for the first time, it can feel like a huge leap of faith. What is the best way for students to interact with the material? What should be covered? How should assessment take place? The best part of tackling a new teaching topic is that there is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. From online forums and websites dedicated to STEM education, to the mentors and colleagues with whom you work at school, there is no better way to learn about STEM than seeking support. Check out the Ask a Tech Teacher website for ideas on meaningful lessons for every age or go from STEM to STEAM and explore ways to incorporate art and design into your lessons.
No matter what your lessons ultimately look like, know that experiential learning and problem-solving in any form helps students to see the world in a different way. Here at Turnitin, we’re excited to support and celebrate Computer Science Education Week-- join the conversation and share your stories and pictures on social media with the hashtag #CSEdWeek and #HourOfCode.