Showing posts with label free STEM lesson plans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free STEM lesson plans. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

A Free STEM Toolkit for Librarians

Last week while looking for directions for a soda pop experiment I refined my search to show just PDFs. When I did that I came across a PDF from the Idaho Commission for Libraries. That PDF is titled A Toolkit for Libraries Providing STEM Outreach Activities

A Toolkit for Libraries Providing STEM Outreach Activities contains directions for ten hands-on STEM activities that can be done with elementary school students. The list of activities that you will find in the toolkit include rubber band helicopters, DIY pattern blocks, and Puzzling Packets (an activity for explaining how the Internet functions). 

A Toolkit for Libraries Providing STEM Outreach Activities includes directions for each of the ten activities, vocabulary lists for each activity, links to additional supporting resources, and suggested strategies for extending each lesson. And for those who would like some ideas on how to get students and parents excited about these activities, there is a page of suggested marketing strategies at the end of toolkit. 

Take a look at the links below for even more STEM resources:

Friday, February 8, 2019

Building Models to Understand Brain Injury - A Hacking STEM Project

I'm still working through many of the notes that I took during the 2019 BETT Show that wrapped up in a London a couple of weeks ago. One of the new things that I saw there was a new Hacking STEM project called Building Models to Understand and Mitigate Brain Injury. This is one the newest projects added to Microsoft's Hacking STEM library.

In Building Models to Understand and Mitigate Brain Injury students create a model brain that is connected to pressure sensors to measure the force of impact on the brain from a hit to the head. Those sensors are connected to a Excel where data from each impact is immediately charted. My shakily recorded video shows the model and connected Excel sheet in action.

This project and corresponding lesson plan are intended for use with middle school students. Of course, you could modify it for high school students. The complete lesson plan is available for free right here. Microsoft estimates the cost of materials for the project at $3/ student excluding the Arduino circuit board which are not terribly expensive.

The lesson plan isn't just building a model and recording data about impacts on the brain. There is a design component that you can add to the lesson. In the design component students design various helmets and helmet materials. They then test their designs using the same simulation method that was used to impact in the initial simulation.

While this project could be great for any middle school science class, it could be particularly meaningful to students who participate in sports like soccer and football that have a high risk of head injuries.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Three Good Places to Find Hands-on STEM Activities

On a fairly regular basis I'm asked for recommendations for hands-on STEM activities. In fact, just this morning I answered an email from a reader who was seeking that recommendation. Here are three of my go-to recommendations for hands-on STEM activities.

Microsoft has two excellent and free resources for those who are seeking ideas for hands-on STEM lessons. The first is MakeCode. MakeCode offers free programs that students can use to develop their programming skills. These include coding with LEGO Mindstorms, Adafruit, and Micro:bit. Checkout the MakeCode YouTube channel for great project ideas.

The second offering from Microsoft is called Hacking STEM. The idea behind Hacking STEM is to make low-cost or no-cost hands-on STEM projects accessible to as many people as possible. You can follow Microsoft's directions as written or modify the projects to use other materials to build the projects. In the following video I explain how I modified one of the Hacking STEM projects. So you might say that I hacked a Hacking STEM project.

Science Snacks from Exploratorium has been a recommendation of mine for a few years now. Science Snacks are activities that can be conducted with inexpensive and readily available materials. Each Science Snack comes with a materials list and step-by-step directions. Science Snacks are also accompanied by a written explanation of the science at work in the activity. Many Science Snacks, like Penny Battery, include video demonstrations and explanations.

Working with Arduino circuit boards is a fantastic way for students to develop programming skills. Students write programs on their computers then see their programs "come to life" through the lights, motors, and robotics connected to their Arduino boards. The Arduino project hub is full of project ideas for beginner through advanced programmers. If you're new to Arduino and wondering what hardware to purchase to get started, there are many inexpensive kits for beginners. I'm partial to this Arduino hardware kit for beginners.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Best of 2018 - Free Hands-on STEM Lesson Plans

This week is a vacation week for the vast majority of readers of this blog. As I do at this time every year, I'm going to republish some of the most popular post of 2018. Here's one from February.

"Hacking STEM" was one of the initiatives that Microsoft was heavily promoting at the BETT Show last month. I asked a few Microsoft employees what "hacking STEM" meant. They all replied with explanations that centered on the idea of providing teachers with hands-on STEM lessons and projects that can be done without having to spend much money, if any, on physical materials. One of the many examples that Microsoft had on display to represent their hacking STEM projects was the homemade wave machine pictured in this blog post. You can find directions for that project here (link opens PDF).

Microsoft's Hacking STEM Library is divided into activities that take multiple days to complete and activities that can be completed in one day. All of the activities in the Hacking STEM Library include detailed directions, materials lists including places to acquire materials, and lesson objectives. The homemade wave machine project is an example of a one-day project. This lesson on harnessing electricity to communicate is an example of a multiple day project.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

4-H STEM Lab - A Good Place to Find Hands-on STEM Activities for K-12

The 4-H STEM Lab is a good place to find hands-on STEM activities for students of all ages. Activities in the 4-H STEM Lab are organized according to topic and grade level. The topics are alternative energy, chemistry, electricity, engineering, and physics. As is often the case with resources like this, some of the suggested activities can be applied to multiple topics.

All of the activities listed in the 4-H STEM Lab contain materials lists and detailed directions for completion. Each activity page also includes a PDF that you can download to reference while completing the activity with your students. The PDF contains discussion questions that you can use to debrief after the activity is completed. For example, the Rubber Band Car activity PDF includes questions that ask students to consider other simple machines that could be powered by rubber bands.

Applications for Education
The 4-H STEM Lab's library of activities is still fairly small, but the activities that it does offer are well developed. I appreciate that the activities have possibilities for modification and extension based on your students' needs. The activities in the 4-H STEM Lab are a good fit for a summer or after-school enrichment program as well as being useful for traditional classroom settings.

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