With so many buzzwords floating around in education, the most used one by far is STEM. Most teachers we work with can’t leave a school meeting or a conference without hearing about “STEM.” A lot of the time the focus is placed on making sure that a STEM lesson is being done. In reality, adopting a STEM or STEAM program is so much more than just implementing a lesson here and there. It doesn’t have to be a stand-alone class. It is something that you can integrate across the curriculum, which will aid in student understanding.
We all know that this movement is intended to prepare our children for the competitive 21st-century workforce, but it goes far beyond job preparation. STEM develops a set of thinking, reasoning, teamwork, investigative, and creative skills that they can use in all areas of their lives! Here are some simple ideas on how you can integrate STEM into other subjects:
- ELA (English Language Arts) is the subject that educators struggle with the most in terms of implementing STEM. When you think of literacy you automatically imagine picture books, spelling words, and grammar. While it does encompass those components, it is easy to spice it up for your students! My favorite way to integrate STEM into literacy is by way of fairytales. For example, I had my students read “The Three Little Pigs.” When they were finished reading, I divided them into teams and instructed them to design a house that the “Big Bad Wolf” could not blow down! They used toothpicks and Dots candy to make the houses. They wrote their plans in a Science journal and I took it as an opportunity to introduce terms such as vertices and faces to use when labeling their drawings. Once they were done planning, they had to work together to build the houses. It was a great activity that they really enjoyed while bolstering their critical thinking, teamwork, and engineering skills! This can be applied to building a pumpkin carriage ride for Cinderella or designing castles with different types of pattern blocks. It is a great place to start!
- While Social Studies isn’t every student’s favorite subject, it is my goal to make it as fun as possible! For example, while studying Native American history and culture, you can plan Native American houses and build them. You can even make this into a longer project and create a diorama. For younger students, a theme can be “My Community.” You can create cities using paper bags, construction paper, and glue. This can be a great group activity. At the end, you will see unique houses and community features which can be used for free play!
These examples are simple and easy, and that’s how it should be. You don’t need to isolate STEM lessons for the students to learn STEM. In fact, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills are most often used to solve everyday challenges in the real world and are not fields that can be isolated. You just need to get creative. Integrating STEM into other subjects will not only enhance your students learning but also develop the necessary skills for future success!