Everyone is getting excited about STEM these days and with good reason! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is necessary preparation for our elementary and secondary students in order to inspire students to enter STEM careers. Creating a STEM activity for your students can be easy if you use the following Design Steps.
The Design Steps are a tool students can use when designing STEM engineering challenges. The Steps are the heart of the scientific process. Students must plan, test, refine their thinking and present their ideas. The Steps are not necessarily linear and may occasionally go in a different order or have more steps. As students document and record their thoughts they build their scientific skills and communication skills while experiencing metacognition. Below is an illustration and description of the Design Steps.
Identifying the Challenge: This is where the student starts. What is the challenge? What are the limits? What materials can I use? What am I suppose to accomplish? How much time do I have?
Brainstorming Ideas:Students need to gather information. They may need to review previous concepts and principles learned. Research may be needed for some projects. Consulting with one another and sharing background knowledge between students may also be useful. Using these ideas the students should discuss some design options.
Building The Design: Students will begin working with materials. They will implement their beginning designs. Here they will assemble and perhaps record design options in writing, with sketches, in photographs or with computer images.
Testing The Design:Here the students test their design to observe what works and what doesn’t.
Refining Thinking and Adjusting The Design: This is where the students make changes to their design and try to improve their product.
Presenting Ideas: Students need to explain their process and product to each other. This can be a formal or informal presentation.
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