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STEM as a "special"??

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Beth Sommers Beth Sommers 4140 Points

Hello! I’ve been asked to teach STEM as a special to our k-8 studnets, once per week (25 classes of kids, 5 classes per day). Is this even possible? Not sure how others make this work when providing “STEM” 40 minutes per week to each class. Please help! :-) Beth=

Nina Stiell Nina Stiell 3780 Points


My name is Nina Stiell and I have taught both elementary age and middle school.  It is possible but you definitely need to keep in mind the organization of their projects and time management.  The students might need to keep a  journal of some kind to help them keep up with what they have already due and what needs to be due the next class meeting.  I would start with short STEM projects that can be done in your class period and then move on to long duration projects.  I’m not sure what STEM material you are using but EiE offers some great free webinars on STEM related activities.  The STEMscope Science Series Textbook also have great PBL projects that are aligned with the engineering design process.  But your school would have to purchase that textbook.  Oh, mystery science is also awesome.  I hope this is helpful. 

Good luck,

Nina Stiell 

Robin Willig Robin Willig 5625 Points

Hi Beth- I teach a K-5 STEAM program. It sounds like a similar assignment to your assignment. You can follow some of our progress via twitter. My twitter page is RSS STEAM @WilligSTEAM. Robin

Sharon Jeffrey Sharon Jeffrey 110 Points

Hi Beth~


I taught 4-8th grade science for two years and it was quite a challenge.  The biggest thing to consider is LAB time!  How much time you need to set up and clean up and maybe present an idea for a brief prep to set up and clean up as nothing is necessarily easy to clean up....or.....make sure that there is a specific area for your materials to be lined up ready to go.  Those classes are fun and doable but again, you will need some support inplace to make it sucessful whether that be time to prep or an organized place to set everyhting up and put everything away at the beginning and ending of your day.  That would be my advice.  Have fun!  Start with sound ;)



Lynnea Shafter Lynnea Shafter 4475 Points

Hi Beth, I teach K-5 STEM at Barbara Morgan STEM academy in Idaho. I've also taught 8th grade. I'm in my 5th year at BMSA. I'd be more than happy to help you. It is possible. But it does need to be set up the right way so that you don't feel overwhelmed. If you'd like any info., to see my schedules or lesson plans or to just ask questions of just let me know.  We have four STEM schools in our district and we all run them differently. I can give you ideas of what it can look like and what you can do with the time. You can email me at [email protected] Sincerely, Lynnea Shafter

Beth Sommers Beth Sommers 4140 Points

Thank you so much, Lynnea for your kind offer to help! Yes - I'd love to see what your schedule looks like and how you go about setting up for teaching your lessons. Warmly, Beth

Kathy Biernat Kathy Biernat 5195 Points

I would also love to see your schedule or a sample lesson plan - i am trying to create a job like this at my school. Thanks for this generous offer. Kathybiernat@gmail.

Yasemin Phillips Yasemin Phillips 35 Points


I see that this post is from a couple years ago but is very relatable to me at this time! I just accepted a new to our county STEM Specialty position and I will be teaching kids PreK-5 once a week, 6 classes per day for 40 minutes each. I would love any information you would be willing to share with routines, setup, best practices, lessons, units, etc. My email address is [email protected] if you'd rather write me there. 

Have a great day!


Yasemin Phillips

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 10993 Points

[size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]Beth and everyone,[/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]You might also post this question on the STEM, earlychildhood and elementary [url=]email lists/listservs run by NSTA[/url]. You will add to the conversation and reach even more experienced NSTA members. The responses come to email instead of being archived on a platform but the conversations are just as helpful.[/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]My experience is with children ages 2.5-5 years old--also a wide developmental range : ) I haven't taught in your situation but over the years I've heard from others who have.[/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]They say that organizing the materials for 5 classes a day of children in grades K-8 will make your teaching time more productive. [/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]Think about what materials can be left out for subsequent classes. For example, having high shelves where I can quickly move trays of materials used by the 4/5s when the Twos come into the room is essential. [/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]Think about projects that can involve multiple ages at different levels, such as gardening. While middle school students are examining cell structure using microscopes, Kindergarten students can be planting seeds. The [url=Progressions Within the Next Generation Science Standards]NGSS Appendix E[/url]-Progressions Within the Next Generation Science Standards can help us make decisions about what to teach when.[/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]In keeping with research that shows children learn over time, plan to teach a concept over weeks and months, not just one week, especially the K-2 students.[/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]I hope your colleagues in the grade level classrooms can meet with you to see how you all can collaborate so science-technology-engineering-math doesn't become isolated from the rest of the children's learning.[/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]Best wishes for a successful program![/font][/size] [size=3][font=Trebuchet MS]Peggy Ashbrook[/font][/size]

Brenda Velasco Mizenko Brenda Velasco 2695 Points


Just curious how this is going for you. Do you have any information or tips to share on being a STEM specials teacher? If you do, please share. Thanks!

Tamieka Grizzle Tamieka Grizzle 55 Points

Hello Brenda,

I created the STEM specials teacher position at my school three years ago. I am still learning the ropes, but have settled on how I want to run my STEM lab. The first year I tried to implement STEM Challenges, but in the end found out it was difficult to acquire materials for approximately 700 students! In my second year, I began implementing a lot of coding and robotics and spent a lot of time learning how to use the robots and teaching my students coding and robots. Now in my third year, I think I finally got it! My STEM lab is science-based where I teach the K-5 state science standards and incorporate computer science using coding and robotics to model the standards. Over the years, I have accumulated several robots and other types of educational technology, which I acquired through Donors Choose and grants:

·       Dash and Dot robots

·       LEGO WeDo 2.0

·       mBots

·       Shperos

·       Ozobots

·       Bee-Bots

·       Osmo educational technology gaming system

·       littleBits

·       Robot Mouse

·       3-D Pens

·       iPads

Brenda Velasco Mizenko Brenda Velasco 2695 Points

That's awesome! Thanks for sharing. I'm hoping to start a STEM program at my school in the near future and looking for ideas.

Abby Callon Abby Callon 270 Points

I realize that this is an older posting, but I love the idea of teaching STEM as a special! In this format, you are still exposing kids to STEM, who would otherwise not enroll in a standard STEM school. Really, in this format, you could focus more on the fun projects and exciting parts of STEM, as 40min blocks do not allow for a deep dive into any one specific topic. This program may allow for interest from students who would not have otherwise gone for a STEM approach in education. 

Mary Lynn Hess Mary Hess 12478 Points

Hi Beth. This year I taught STEM on the specials wheel. Honestly, I wasn't a fan since the lessons had to be short and sweet. I ended up using a lot of Paige Keeley probes. Her resources from NSTA came in handy.

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