Download - STEM Demystified

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STEM Demystified

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• Understand the importance of STEM education.

• Practice the four Cs of learning: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

• Collect best practices to create good and inexpensive (many free) STEM lessons.

• Teach 21st Century skills without technology.

• Learn strategies (e.g., productive struggle) to creatively solve real-world problems.

• Assess the success of your activities.

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STEM activities help students to move beyond simple test performance and focuses on developing higher-level thinking

skills by connecting classroom learning to the real-world.

The United States is ranked below many industrialized nations in Science and Mathematics. Consequently, it will become more

difficult to compete globally unless we focus on integrating STEM activities into all our coursework and workshops. (Pew Research)

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STE M Demystifieda^

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“STEAM Education provides the framework used for connecting the growing network of

educational disciplines, businesses and communities to create adaptable citizen-involved,

globally-responsible, reality-based programs for developing life-long FUNctional literacy for all.”

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You do not need to be a scientist, technologist, engineer, artist, and/or a mathematician to do STEAM.


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Four Cs of Learning:

•Critical Thinking




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Critical Thinking• Reason Effectively

• Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation.

• Use Systems Thinking• Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in

complex systems.

• Make Judgments and Decisions• Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims, and beliefs.• Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view.• Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments.• Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis.• Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes.

• Solve Problems• Solve different kinds of unfamiliar problems in both conventional and innovative ways.• Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better



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Communicate Clearly

• Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts.

• Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes, and intentions.

• Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate, and persuade).

• Use multiple media and technologies, and know how to assess impact and their effectiveness a priori.

• Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multilingual and multicultural).


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Collaborate with Others

• Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams.

• Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal.

• Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member.

• Check out the GLOBE Program:

• Have fun doing the Marshmallow Challenge:


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• Think Creatively• Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming).• Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts).• Elaborate, refine, analyze, and evaluate original ideas to improve and maximize

creative efforts.

• Work Creatively with Others• Develop, implement, and communicate new ideas to others effectively.• Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and

feedback into the work.• Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world

limits to adopting new ideas. • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation are

part of a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes

• Implement Innovation• Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which

the innovation will occur.

Creativity and Innovation


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Learn some great ways to integrate the 4 C’s into your

library programs/classrooms.

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“The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern

recognizers and meaning makers. These people…will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”

~ Daniel Pink

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Best practices for creating good STEM lessons

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A good STEM lesson:

• Presents a real-world and interesting open-ended problem.

• Allows for several acceptable solutions for the problem.

• Integrates and applies grade-level content in science and math.

• Expects students to work/communicate in productive teams to solve the problem.

• Uses the Engineering Design Process approach for solving problems.


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Engineering Design Process

EDP gives students a way to think systematically about solving problems.

1. Define problem[s],

2. Conduct research (Information Literacy/Transliteracy),

3. Discuss multiple ideas for solutions,

4. Develop and create a device or prototype, and then

5. Test, evaluate, and redesign.

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Multimodal Research Projects

Other examples:

• Infographics• Public Service Announcement• Podcasting• 360° Video Documentary• Animation

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A good STEM lesson continued:

• Includes technology that adds value and enhances learning.

• Supports a teaching process that is inquiry-based, hands-on, and student-centered.

• Requires students to design and create a model or prototype of the solution.

• Provides quality time to think critically, creatively, and innovatively and to test their solutions, evaluate the results, and redesign if needed.

• It is encouraged to fail and make mistakes. It is a positive step toward discovering and designing solutions.


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“The trick is not in knowing the single solution. It’s having lots of different options and solutions to turn to.”

Source: Wired Magazine April ,2012, page 22


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Science Fair Project Ideas

Browse more projects at

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Want a copy of our grant? Please send an email to [email protected] and I’ll send you a copy.

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Maker workshops

• Video Game Design (3 sessions, 4 ½ hours)

• 3D Design/Printing (3 sessions, 4 ½ hours)

• Fun With Electronics/Circuitry (3 sessions, 4 ½ hours)

• Introduction to Robotics (3 sessions, 4 ½ hours)

• Virtual Reality (3 sessions, 4 ½ hours)

• Video Editing for Film (3 sessions, 4 ½ hours)

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DIY Hologram

Watch at

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Images by Chris Demmons and Chad Mairn

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A very cool way to teach data analytics to children!

Watch at

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Teach 21st Century skills without technology

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- practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area (e.g., medical technology).

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Some of my favorites are:

Understanding Pi with String Art

Learning about ant colonies with Tape Resist Art

Exploring Cameras with Flashlight Painting

DIY Flying Whirly Copter Toy

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Visualizing STEM

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Productive Struggle – given a task slightly

beyond a student’s ability. Learning sticks

when there is some struggle. Critical

thinking and discovery!

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Amazon link Amazon link

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Limit Screen Time!

Teens playing Settlers of Catan in Portland Public Library

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Get outside and explore!

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Phase 1 of the Butterfly Garden at SPC’s STEM Center

What can butterflies teach us?

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Beginner Butterfly Kits are available:

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Assess the success of your activities

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More info:

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Assessing Information Literacy Skills

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Don’t forget surveys!

Example feedback survey for Maker Boot Camp

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Select Resources/ideas:

Student Teaming Tips: STEM by Design – learn necessary skills to collaborate successfully and be responsible and accountable for their work.

Real-World STEM Problems - STEM teachers pose problems and combine problem solving with project-based learning across disciplines.

Google Maps | Education - empower students to visualize, share, and communicate information about the world around them.

Teaching 21st Century Skills Without Technology – can you teach 21st century skills without technology?

Six Characteristics of a Great STEM Lesson – some great resources here to help jumpstart thinking about creating STEM lessons.

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MIT Blossoms – some great resources to help “deepen and strengthen a curriculum.”

STEM Hands-on Activities (Pinterest) – tons of awesome ideas here!

Teachers Pay Teachers – their goal is to make the “expertise and wisdom of all the teachers in the world available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.”

eGFI - Engineering, Go For It! – some great lesson plans to create interesting engineering projects.

Chad Mairn Presentations - a variety of presentations ranging from Open Education Resources to Basic Video Game Design.

Select Resources/ideas continued:

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•Arts Exposure Leads to Increased STEM Patents

Michigan State University

•Testimony on Capitol Hill

View CSPAN coverage of the US House Committee

hearing on Science, Space and Technology.

•Interview with Arne Duncan on STEM

Innovation and Technology in Education conference

•STEAM by US Region

RISD Office of Government Relations

•STE[+a]M Connect

UC San Diego

•The Steam Journal

Claremont Graduate University


Arts Education Partnership

•State of Create


•Framework for 21st Century Learning

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

•School Transformation Through Arts Integration


•Science Literacy and Assessment Data

American Association for the Advancement of Science


•Reinvesting in Arts Education

President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities

•Drawing to Learn in Science


•Cultivating Organizational Creativity

IBM Report

•Ready to Innovate

The Conference Board

•Grand Challenges for Engineering

National Academey of Engineering

STEAM resources and connections

Read more at:

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Contact me!