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STEM in Elementary School

posted Mar 3, 2015, 5:26 AM by Jenna Cooper   [ updated Mar 3, 2015, 10:52 AM ]

My name is Becky Pennington and I teach 3rd grade at Center Grove Elementary School.  

What does STEM mean for elementary teachers?  

You may already be doing it! Simply looking at the questions you ask can make a difference. Exploring with students, experiencing hands on, trying~failing~trying again, then explaining and discussing.  

An article on WeAreTeachers helps explain: “The principles of STEM—critical thinking, asking good questions, observation and exploration—are truly at the heart of every discipline.”  "Elementary teachers need the opportunity and the confidence to be engineers alongside their students," says Dr. Green, professor of STEM education at Nova Southeastern University.  This can be as simple as changing the kinds of questions we ask our students. “By adding a few words to your classroom questioning vocabulary—words like design, experiment and model—a whole world of STEM learning can be opened up for students." It's all about tweaking the lessons, activities, homework, and language just enough to create an environment where STEM is a natural but effective part of the curriculum.  

For a great quick introductory resource, check out the full article - "STEM: It's Elementary!".

For a motivating speaker about the importance of teaching our students to think, question, and learn by doing, follow David Monina Sengeh on Twitter.  He has some great videos. Here is an example in which he asks us to mentor and help students discover instead of providing step by step “solutions” to problems:

We need to provide our students with tools and confidence to take challenges and not be afraid of failure.  Team work, discussions, and sustained curiosity lead to new discoveries.  Writing to explain, sharing our work with class, and showing one problem different ways.  Justifying why, thinking like the kids, doing instead of standing by. Here is a great video that shows how to teach elementary students the magic of math:

Here in third grade we have been learning to show what we know, agree/disagree with ourselves and with each other as we talk, and share our solutions to questions.  Even simple math equations can lead to an agree/disagree conversation.

IMG_0325.JPG    marble run photo.JPG


For more STEM lessons, activities, and ideas check out the resources below: