May 29, 2012 AT 3:51 pm

ASK AN EDUCATOR! “What are some STEM resources for making lesson plans?”

Brad asks:

What are some quality resources for helping teachers prepare lesson plans with STEM material?

I am a Software Engineer that is helping my former high school develop their new STEM program, and would like to have some resources to help fine tune their classes, with both real world and class room material.

These Q/A posts have been very instrumental in the development of the program and I greatly appreciate your input.

This sounds like a great project and I am happy to hear you are helping out your former high school. It is really great when industry itself helps to develop STEM in education. Especially when the teachers are allowed to work with the individuals to help better their understanding about what is actually happening in the “real world.” This is one of the things that has always bothered me about being a teacher. I spend every school year preparing my students to enter higher education and later the work force ….. a place that I have really never been. Although I spend a great deal of time working in industry over my summers and researching the hell out of my curriculum, I will never fully understand what is actually happening in jobs I am prepping my students for. (Lack of this understanding is a real problem BTW…….I have actually heard of teachers LAMINATING their notes!)

This is where you come in.

You have been given an opportunity to help tailor an UP-TO-DATE STEM program for your school and are bringing knowledge to the table that textbooks can never supply. Kudos to you!

STEM programs can be a bit funny as Science and Math are required courses. And being required courses, they have required curriculum with standards testing to verify the students grasp. Updating the curriculum requires imaginative teachers that can both inject new and interesting topics into the classroom while hitting all of their benchmarks. In my opinion, the real opportunities in developing and bettering STEM in a school is through the Technology and Engineering. (Engineering is a bit funny too. What qualifies as an actual Engineering course in K-12 as apposed to a Technology course?)

Tech Ed is the needle in the rough. Although there are state and national standards for Tech Ed curriculum, there isn’t any national testing. Typically schools validate their Tech Ed programs through vocational and industry based certification tests. Talk about an open door. If you have an administration that is flexible and progressive enough, you can honestly propose just about anything intellectually stimulating that focuses on Engineering. How about a course in Aeronautics…….and not just Balsa Planes or Rockets or whatever…..but rather a course in Quad Copter flight dynamics? Take the state Aeronautics course code, meet the curriculum requirements, get it approved and BAM you have a course that will blow the students minds.

As for resources, there are tons. Here are just a few:

INTEL – Intel inspires the next generation of innovators with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum, competitions, and online resources to encourage students’ interest and participation.

NASA – NASA’s Education Materials Finder will help teachers locate resources that can be used in the classroom.

EPA – At EPA, we want to provide you a tool for talking about environmental issues. Or provide you a place to share environmental tips and ideas that you use every day.

PUMAS – PUMAS (poo’ • mas) — is a collection of brief examples showing how math and science topics taught in K-12 classes can be used in interesting settings, including every day life.

STEM Connect – STEM Connect is the captivating real-world STEM curriculum and career development resource from Discovery Education.

Museum of Science – “Engineering the Future” is intended to help today’s high school students understand the ways in which they will engineer the world of the future — whether or not they choose to pursue technical careers.

Best of luck and I hope I have helped with your question!

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“Ask an Educator” questions are answered by Adam Kemp, a high school teacher who has been teaching courses in Energy Systems, Systems Engineering, Robotics and Prototyping since 2005.

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1 Comment

  1. Here’s a nice article that summarizes the “theory” behind how physics should be taught at the high-school level. In general, “best practice” involves students creating and testing “models” of how the world works. See the specifics here:

    http://modeling.asu.edu/R&E/ModelingMethod-Physics_1995.pdf

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