Creating a STEM Learning Experience

When designing a STEM learning experience, I think it is important to think about the following key questions to help shape the design of the program.  My thinking for now… may change tomorrow… Enjoy!

  1. How will I ensure that the STEM learning experience I create are designed for all students and will provide opportunity for diverse student populations?  Creating opportunity for all students to develop skills and knowledge in STEM areas is important!  It is not to suggest that all students should pursue STEM career pathways..  I am only suggesting that all students deserved to discover their interests, passions and abilities while they are in school.  How do you know if you like ice cream if you have never tried it?   In addition, the skills and knowledge developed in these areas are transferrable to other contexts.  There is an urgent call to action to diversity the STEM workforce.  In order to diversify this workforce, K-12 education must provide equitable opportunity for all our students!
  2. How is the learning connected to Science and Mathematics?  How is it deepening the understanding of concepts and providing students a way to apply and engage with these concepts to further their learning?
  3. How is “technology” in STEM being represented in the STEM learning experience you are creating?  The term “technology” is used to define a variety of things.  We can be referring to the digital tools we use or the traditional tools in technology classes in education such as construction technology or manufacturing technology.  Technology can also be considered a discipline of study such as computer science, software engineering and electrical engineering.  How might you develop skills in the use of technology into the program you create?  How might you also build skills such as coding?
  4. How are you fostering the development of knowledge and skills in Engineering Design into the program?  There are a variety was strategies to tackle problems.  Engineering Design is one of these strategies.  It is important to recognize that other strategies are equally important and will still play a role in solving problems in different contexts.  Developing the mindset of a problem solver and thinking critically about when to apply what strategy within a variety of contexts is the work me must do in education.
  5. What are the problem-solving strategies that must be integrated into a STEM learning experience?  Consider reviewing the ways in which all disciplines might inquire about a question they have.  There are many commonalities in the processes outlined.  What is important here is to consider how we develop these skills and mindsets in our students.  Problem-solving strategies such as the scientific method, design thinking, innovation design, inquiry and computational thinking all play a role in STEM education.
  6. How will I make sure STEM learning is a process?  STEM learning is not one single moment in a learning exercise.  It requires careful design and construction and a clear sequence in implementation.  There are lots of “STEM Activities and Crafting Projects” found online.  If this is all we do, we are really misrepresenting what STEM learning must be.  There are STEM competitions with a focus on specific areas such as robotics.  Robotics alone is not STEM learning.  We must be clear here that the STEM learning that must happen is not one single learning exercise… it is a collection of programs sequenced and connected together in an intentional learning environment that we wish to create.
  7. How am I checking in with STEM experts?  STEM learning experiences must be informed by STEM career pathways.  Consider joining STEM networks to support the work you are doing.  Reach out to STEM Faculties at postsecondary institutions and find out about their educational outreach programs… many engineering and science faculties have full departments to support this!  Consider attending training and professional learning sessions!  Build your skills!  There are some Science & Technology AQ courses out there now embedding learning and training for STEM Education!  (I know that the Durham District School Board has a Primary/Junior Science & Technology AQ… I wrote these…).


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