We all love those STEM engineering activities! Students are so engaged, and the learning and application are phenomenal! I recently asked my newsletter subscribers to tell me about the challenges of teaching STEM and having students participate in engineering challenges. I was given some great responses from my subscribers, and in this post, I am going to give you five tips for managing STEM engineering activities.
STEM Engineering Tip One
Use easy-to-find household materials when possible. Ask students and parents to save cardboard, bottle caps, plastic bottles twist ties, rubber bands, egg cartons, chopsticks, string, and tape. Have some labeled bins in your room that can be donated to easily and provide parents with a list of what you are looking for. Put a parent volunteer or responsible student in charge of keeping the bins organized and making sure donations are clean and usable. Many STEM activities can be done with just a few of the materials, and you will be so happy to save money on supplies. Students also become invested when they add to the collection.
Stem Engineering Tip Two
Make students do the work of planning. Before they are allowed to gather materials, or at least before they are given a key material, they must show you their plan. I like to have students work in groups and draw a diagram of their plan before something that I know they will need, such as tape. This part of the design process in STEM engineering is very important and students need to think through their plans. They will probably end up adjusting their prototype, and that is okay! Revising their thinking based on testing is great scientific thinking.
STEM Engineering Tip Three
Give students some criteria and constraints. Not only is this an important STEM skill (and a standard), it also will help with the management. A constraint could be how much time they are allowed for each stage of the process or it could be how large the project needs to be (it will help with storage if students do not have enormous prototypes).
Do you need to teach them about Criteria and Constraints in STEM Engineering?
STEM Engineering Tip Four
Provide scaffolding for students who need it. Ideally, we would like students to solve a STEM Engineering problem themselves, and be able to modify their prototype and have success with whatever criteria are given to them, but we do not want students to become so frustrated that they cannot complete the task. For example, when I do copper tape circuits, I have templates for students who need extra support.
STEM Engineering Tip Five
Give students the opportunity and encouragement to practice the 21st-century skills of
- Critical Thinking
Students will get collaboration and communication practice from working in groups or pairs. STEM engineering by its very nature is creative, and students will definitely be practicing critical thinking. Be sure to let each group explain their thinking and particularly how the redesigned to make a prototype better.
Students will love STEM Engineering Activities! STEM Engineering can teach many useful skills to students. They will learn to collaborate and work together. Students will learn to communicate and use critical thinking. They will learn to use the design process in STEM engineering to solve problems. Students may even fall in love with science and engineering because it is just so much fun!
I have many STEM engineering activities in my store and blog. You can sign up for my newsletter and get this free STEM engineering activity below. Students will love making a solar oven!