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Starting new STEM lab next year...

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Douglas Smith Douglas Smith 205 Points

Hello to all, I will be moving into a new STEM lab for 5th graders this Fall. Any project ideas, companies to get stuff from, just anything you would like to share thanks. Doug S. Lake Mary, Florida

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92316 Points

Hi Doug, I am a former public school teacher who now devotes some of her time helping preservice teachers become familiar with the NGSS, STEM, and the 5 Es. Congratulations on your new position. I am so glad you posted your request. There are so many excellent suggestions and resources already being shared. I am finding the lesson plans at the ngss@nsta hub helpful too. For example, under the 3-5th grade band for Engineering Design at there are lessons that include a Robo Arm, a Biodomes Engineering Design Project, and Gravity Racers to name a few. I am sure all of us who have shared would love to hear back from you on what you found helpful and useful! Best, Carolyn

Sydney Schuler Sydney Schuler 275 Points

Hi Doug,
My name is Sydney Schuler and I'm a STEM Instructional Coach in Illinois. If your background is in Science, there are multiple challenges you can create using your tried and true Science lessons. Here are a couple I have taught
Design a Wind Turbine Blade: Physical Science (I use Kid Wind Project)
Design a Home for a family after a natural disaster Earth Science/Weather or Plate Tectonics/Large Scale systems, Weather and Climate
Design an Eco Friendly home: Global Warming
Design a Solar Car: Global Warming
All of these lessons are available for you to look over for on BetterLesson. All of their lessons are free! You can even search for the NGSS Engineering Standards and find lots of lessons complete with downloadable worksheets/quizzes/exemplars. Look for the tab on the top from Browse Lessons.

Many great organizations offer STEM lesson plans including NASA. I've looked at them but never taught them. I really like the lessons from Engineering, Go for It!, and The Futures Channel. The lessons have real world context.

Good luck in your new job!


Aisha Ashiru Aisha Ashiru 1050 Points

This information was helpful. Thanks for the preferred links provided. Aisha Ashiru

Natarsia Flournoy Natarsia Flournoy 895 Points

Hi, thank you for all of the great lesson ideas. I can see myself using some of them once I enter the classroom.

Katelynn Kraner Katelynn Kraner 715 Points

Thank you for all of these great STEM resources and ideas! It is always important to keep new ideas flowing each year when we put on a STEM week for a local school. Thanks again!

Lane Slagle Elana Slagle 480 Points

Hi Doug, That's great! I am a STEM consultant (and a former 4th and 5th grade teacher). I post a lot of STEM ideas and projects on my web site that might be helpful in getting you started ( Some other great resources that might help are the NASA educator guides and there are a lot of good ideas on Pinterest too. Congrats on your new position! Regards, Elana

Wendy Goldfein Wendy Goldfein 2335 Points

Congrats on your new position.
You are going to really enjoy teaching STEM!

Get Caught Engineering has lots of STEM resources and links for your classroom.  
A Website and Blog:
A Facebook page:           
A Pinterest page: /

Get Caught Engineering

Sarah Benton Feitlinger Sarah Benton 1775 Points

What a wonderful position to be in, beginning something new! I've recently started following several STEM organizations on twitter- STEM Learning Lab, and STEMx to name a couple, there are a ton of others. I write about STEM projects on occasion at my blog: and maintain a STEM and STEAM pinterest board you might want to check out: Good luck! It sounds like fun! -Sarah

 Amanda Hedrick 795 Points

I am also going to be a new STEM teacher K-8. I have taught for 7 years and have a strong back ground in inquiry based learning from STC. I am overwhelm as to what to teach. I will only be teaching three grades at a time for 90 minute blocks. For example, for 6 weeks I will teach K,3, and 6 grades. Then 1,4,7 grades for 6 weeks. Next, 2,5,and 8 grades. Only to repeat the cycle again. Which means I am only able to teach two units per grade. Any advice as what to teach and how would be great. Thanks, Amanda

Sydney Schuler Sydney Schuler 275 Points

Hi Amanda,
What a challenge for you! Did you see my post above? Many of those references have elementary components. Do you have a budget? The Museum of Science in Boston has a great program called
Engineering is Elementary. We use it & like it.
I had a similar year although with fewer grade levels. Nine weeks goes by fast! I found that I couldn't find my pacing groove until I taught it a few times. Go in knowing you will likely not get through all you want.
Have you considered doing one challenge for all the grades & modifying it for each level? It might save you some $. The Kid Wind Project has lessons for different levels.
I'd love to hear how you are going to tackle it. Many teachers can learn from you!
Sydney Schuler

 amanda hedrick 795 Points

Hi Sydney, I have look through all the past posts and websites. :) I do not know what my budget is...:/ I have already started a donors choose project with KNEX and a 3D printer. I have an idea to have my 6-8 grade students research San Diego's traffic and emissions issues. They will research modes of transportation and how effect they are. If we are using them to their max capacity. Then, using the KNEX they will build typical modes of transportation and studies how much energy they used. Next, they will design they own mass transportation. Finally, using the 3D printer watch their ideas come to life. I am hoping that would take 6 weeks. :)

Sydney Schuler Sydney Schuler 275 Points

WOW! That is a great project! I did a similar project in Chicago. The kids wanted to learn about Magnetic Levitation trains. They learned about our electric & diesel train lines then they tested mag-lev trains to report which type would be best in the year 2020. They were lit up ( sorry about the pun). I wish I had taught the emissions component! Great idea. ????????

Jodi Ryan Jodi Ryan 1100 Points

How exciting! I would love a position like this!

Jessica Malloy Jessica Malloy 345 Points

I think you have to decide your STEM lab's purpose first. Will you be teaching classes in there? Will students be coming in using the space on their own? Will teachers be using the space to have classes? We started with those type of questions and then created our lab. My STEM lab was more of an open lab that students could visit with or without their classes. I would do workshops that connected to the content that grade levels were studying and then I had stations that had station cards that students could do without supervision. When I'm looking for materials I look for things that are cost efficient and that I can reuse. I have lockers outside my lab that are labeled with various recyclable materials that we use for different design challenges and students and staff bring things in from home and keep them stocked with things from paper plates to yarn. I buy some of my kits from Pitsco. I think they have some great kits to get you started. I search twitter and follow tons of STEM people and get ideas from them and then create my own stations. I think there is no one size fits all. It has to be customized to your school and your campus culture. Let me know if you have further questions and good luck with your new position!

Michelle Rahn Michelle Rahn 3650 Points

This is really good advice...finding your purpose first! I'm following this post to get more information for school too! -Michelle Rahn

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