This week is National Robotics Week! It’s a great time to get to know robots—and design one yourself! It’s also a great time to revisit STEM and some great ways to incorporate these concepts into your classroom.
It seems like every school year there is a new buzzword, everything from rigor to flipped classroom to grit. Time will tell which of these concepts have staying power. However, one that has stood the test of time is the acronym STEM.
STEM is a multidisciplinary approach to teaching science, technology, engineering, and math. The National Geographic Education website has a curated collection of STEM resources—a great place to kick off any educator’s planning.
What makes National Geographic’s STEM resources unique is their connection to real-world scientists and explorers. Students can draw inspiration from profiles of people like Corey Jaskolski, (above) an engineer who makes things like robotic underwater camera systems and 3-D scanners.
Short videos are a great way to spark interest and discussion when introducing new topics. Check out Gadgets and Gizmos: Inside the Nat Geo Tech Lab for examples of how engineers and scientists use technology to study everything from a shark’s-eye-view of the world to ancient structures buried beneath modern lake sediment.
We also have STEM-related articles that will help inspire kids. For example, the robust article Failure: The Key to Success is about James Cameron’s journey to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. You can use photos of Cameron’s submersible, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER (below) to generate discussion about why the iterative process is important for engineering.
Lastly, take students from the theoretical to the real world through participation in citizen science. Lead your students on a neighborhood bioblitz or chart your neighborhood using MapMaker Interactive. Find more citizen science projects using this list of ideas.
STEM is more than a buzzword. It is an integrated way of teaching concepts essential to a 21st-century education.
Former Nat Geo Editor Jessica Shea wrote this in 2014, and it’s just as relevant today.