STEM education is all about solving real-world problems through creative solutions. Students learn best when they are able to see the real impact of their learning in a context that is problem-based and authentic. This authenticity increases engagement and transforms students’ groans into genuine connections between skillsets and their applications.
Use STEM to encourage critical thinking and innovation
“Educational outcomes in traditional settings are based on how many answers a student can find. In his book Learning & Leading with Habits of Mind, Arthur L. Costa states that students should learn to have a critical attitude with their work. This includes thinking critically, asking questions, editing, thinking flexibly and learning from other perspectives. The key attribute of intelligent humans is to have information and then know how to use it.
Problem-solving and invention are not just for lab thinkers who stay in the classroom. From elementary school to high school, students can think, design, or invent real products that solve real problems. Problem-solving is about finding solutions to unintended consequences and answering questions. Ann Jolly explains that STEM lessons are centered around the engineering design process. This is an open-ended, structured approach to investigation that encourages creativity, invention and prototype design along with testing, analysis. These iterative steps will allow your students to ask critical questions and guide them through the creation and testing of actual prototypes to solve the problem.
STEM projects that address real-world problems
These engaging projects will get your students thinking about real-world problems.
Preventing soil erosion
This project is for sixth-12th grade students. Students learn how to construct a seawall in protest of erosion. They also calculate wave energy to choose the best materials. View the project.
Floods can make it difficult to grow food.
Floods are a natural disaster that can often destroy communities and make it difficult for farmers to grow food. This project explores “a problem faced farmers in Bangladesh” and shows how to grow food when it floods.
Designing a city: solving its design problems
Engage your high school or middle school students in urban planning. Students can help identify the problems of a city, such as transportation and overcrowding, and then design solutions. For younger learners, you can find the Lego version of this project.
Many areas around the globe, including our country, don’t have clean water. Teens will learn how to make and test their water filtration systems in this STEM project. Check out the project.
Enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities
How does someone with crutches and a wheelchair get what they need? Some clever designs are the key! Through some clever designs! View the project.
Clean up oil spillage
All of us have seen pictures of wildlife and beaches covered in oil from a catastrophic spillage. Students from elementary through middle school are involved in this project, which involves designing and testing oil spillage cleanup kits. View the project.
Construction of earthquake-resistant structures
This project addresses some of the major problems caused by the increasing number of earthquakes that strike the world. Elementary students can learn how to build earthquake-resistant structures in their classroom. View the project.
Solar oven construction
It is possible to build solar ovens in remote areas or poor areas to cook safe food. Elementary students build solar ovens and learn about their environmental and social impact. View the project.
Stopping the oxidization of apples
This oxidation-based project will stop your apples turning brown. Students can count, label, predict, and experiment, making it ideal for younger learners. View the project.
As a STEAM educator, you can advance
The STEAM movement has emerged from the push for STEM, adding arts to enrichment and engagement. Although there are many ways to incorporate STEM and STEAM lessons into your curriculum, it is important that you have the right foundational knowledge and professional training. Imagine the impact that you could make on your students and community if there was a theoretical framework, many strategies and lots of ideas.