Vernier Science Education - June  2024


Forums / Elementary Science / STEM to STEAM

Elementary Science


Author Post
Emma Moss Emma Moss 100 Points


In my pre-service classroom, we do field experience hours at the local middle school in a unique class called 'makers space.' This class is for students to learn more about science and be extremely hands on, they are almost in control of their own learning in this class. My group that I work with is called 'STEM to STEAM' meaning that we actually have students construct and build items, using their engineering and math skills. The students are in 6th grade, however sometimes they struggle coming up with ideas. What are some options for STEAM projects that would be doable and also affordable in a classroom?


Thank you, 

Emma Moss

Pre- Service Teacher

Wartburg College


Richard Varner Richard Varner 955 Points

Whenever I would creat a special center or activity for the classroom I would look at two aspects of the design.   First, if the content was not directly connected to a topic of study, how could the skills connect to the standards I needed to achieve?  Align the skills and make the connections to the lessons planned and then move to the story the activity was to tell.  Essentially, this center would become a small interdisciplinary unit or a component of a larger unit.

Maker spaces do not have to be high tech areas, but they do need to be problem solving areas that result in a 'product'.  For example, small teams or pairs of students can use scissors, three sheets of paper, and three paper clips to build the tallest self-supporting tower.  The measurement occurs after the tower stands for a designated period of time and the results are posted on a table.  The students will become competitive to reach the tallest measurement and the designs will become more creative and sturdy over time.

If the engineering design process is introduced, there are many projects such as this one with simple supplies.  Building a cardboard chair with no glue, staples, or tape is another favorite. I employed these as whole class units to start the year and discovered who the emergent leaders were in the classroom. Fully recycleable when they are through.

Design, measurement, writing and presentation components need to be included in a science notebook to document the work and provide for sharing.

Camille Henry Camille Henry 2040 Points

In my classes as a Pre-Service teacher we have talked a lot about incorporating other subjects into science to make this type of activity more natural! I have a couple ideas for this that may be helpful.


One idea may be gathering a bunch of building materials and having students try to make a marble track. You can use whatever materials you have, you could use news/scratch paper all the way up to real marble tracks if you had them. You can incorporate literacy by having students make a written plan with steps before they begin or even creating a scripted video explaining their initial ideas. 


Another idea I've seen used to incorporate STEM into the classroom is having students design things. In my class we visited a space which sounds similar to your 'makerspace' in which students can explore and develop ideas about science topics. One station I saw had tops at it, and students could play with, test, evaluate and then create their own top that they think would spin the longest. Students are encouraged to be creative and to interact with the manipulatives, but they are also thinking about the engineering portion of it. How can my top spin the longest? Or how can my top do a trick (like the tippe top)? This activity gets students thinking and creating and designing, which they would love doing! It also does not take a lot of materials, you can find tops at Oriental Trading and the dollar store!


Hope this helps and that you found success in your classroom!


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