Carolina Biological OSE - July 2024


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STEM Class?

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Laura Robinson Laura Robinson 95 Points

Hello. I am new to this specific list, so I hope I'm not repeating something recent. My science department has been informed that we will be offering a "STEM elective" in the fall and that we are to build this class together without knowing who will be teaching it. There are no individual STEM standards to the best of my knowledge. My understanding of STEM is that it should be built into other subject areas. Does anyone have any experience designing or teaching a class that is simply, STEM? Scratching my head, Laura

Al Byers Al Byers 4498 Points

Laura This is a GREAT question/query. Indeed I agree with your statement that STEM itself is "not" a subject. Many default to think this means delivering a robotics class, which is great, but the notion of STEM is a "fuzzy" construct and is broader than that Where might we place the emphasis? Are we talking: STEM, TEMS, METS, STEAM, STREAM? Are we talking, it must be trans-disciplinary or Integrated STEM (like the National Academy of Engineering report on integrated STEM from Greg Pearson) See: Does STEM vary at the elementary level versus middle versus high school level? Integrated STEM might be simpler at lower grade bands that already teach across disciplines, but at the lower grade bands some reports are suggesting teachers need support in building up their subject matter content knowledge. See a blog post where I highlight this notion at NSTA, and the accompanying report: If at the HS level, and a school is focusing on science and math in a big way, does this mean they are facilitating an exemplary STEM program? If they have a large CTE program, doing CAD and engineering design with constraints, iterating for the best solution, but not "integrating the three dimensions (disciplinary core ideas in science along with cross-cutting like patterns, cause and effects, system and systems models), is this STEM? If you'd like more on that be sure to check out: Coding, as an aside is also getting much traction, and the K12 Framework for Science Education and the NGSS have a specific practice that is "mathematics and computational thinking," right, where we might think about using coding to explore/understand science phenomena or solve authentic complex problems/challenges, e.g., data analysis, synthesize, visualization, recognizing patterns, etc. using coding as a tool, and maybe not coding for coding's sake, such as making a simple Pac man go across a screen or coding multimedia eye candy. Coding can be a key part of STEM when used in meaningful ways to facilitate deeper and more flexible understanding of the core ideas in science! I might also suggest you consider reviewing several NSTA virtual conferences archives that discussed STEM program examples at the district level: * Shifting to Integrated STEM: Experiences of Three School Districts, November 7, 2015 * STEM Today for a Better Tomorrow, April 25, 2015 See: I'm sure there is more, and while I did not recommend a single STEM HS program, I hope this may provide some guidance on your decision process. I believe the STEM virtual conference archives (with PPTs and speaker bios) do provide some exemplars of programming they use like Project Lead the Way, NSTA STEM competitions, etc. (three school districts). Best

Lane Slagle Elana Slagle 480 Points

Hi Laura, Well, you've certainly been given latitude in creating this new class, so that's good, but sometimes a little too much latitude can be daunting. I would start by pulling what will be your core standards or performance expectations. Seeing as you've been tasked with creating a STEM class, I would suggest that these be the Engineering Design Performance Expectations from NGSS because they are subject independent and thus can be adapted into virtually any topic or unit. Once you've made these the sort of core/backbone PE's of your course, I would then start identifying topics and units (or even projects) that you'd like to teach throughout the class. While you're making these selections, these will incorporate both the performance expectations that you've identified to be your core/backbone ones and the ones from other sections of NGSS, CCSS and/or your district's standards that are specific to your topic/project/grade level. I'm a former teacher and administration and have been a curriculum developer for the past 10 years, so if you have more questions that you think I can help with, please feel free to reach out directly. Regards, Elana [email protected]

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