STEM/STEAM Day is a chance for educators to celebrate the importance of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. The Along team loves this day and believe it’s a perfect opportunity to connect with students over hobbies, activities, and interests that are based in STEM/STEAM. That’s why we turned to our fellow Along colleague, Susan Menkel, who has a background in science education, for tips and ideas to celebrate the day.
Here are 7 ways teachers can make STEM/STEAM Day a memorable event:
1. Give students an understanding of STEM/STEAM.
Before STEM/STEAM Day arrives, introduce the idea and explain what it stands for. Explain that it’s not about extra science homework or lessons found in textbooks. Show that STEM/STEAM is really about problem solving and that it touches many moments of a student’s life — from the video games they play to the bridges they cross. Encourage students to look around and to begin to identify how science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics relates to the things they do every day.
2. Connect over interests.
In the lead-up to STEM/STEAM Day, ask your students to think about the activities they love. Use Along to start the conversation. We suggest the following reflection question:
A spark is a talent or interest that brings joy to a person’s life. What is your spark? Why do you love doing it?
This question helps students express their interests and values in a space where you are attentive and listening. Once a student has identified their spark, it’s now possible to connect over how a certain hobby is related to STEM/STEAM. For instance, the way a soccer ball moves is related to physics, the reason LEGOs are a hit has to do with engineering, and even music has a backbone of mathematics.
3. Bring that spark into the classroom.
Now that your students are thinking about their spark, it’s time to bring that conversation into the classroom on STEM/STEAM Day. Along offers two activities that are all about identifying sparks. We suggest using Identify Your Sparks first, and then Explore Interests by Sharing Sparks as a follow-up. Together, the class can begin to see how the activities they love are possible thanks to STEM/STEAM and how they lead to new worlds of possibilities.
4. Take a virtual tour.
The Department of Energy National Laboratories offers virtual tours through their STEM Rising program. This is a fun way for students to see what science and technology careers look like up-close. You can then hop over to The Metropolitan Museum of Art for their #metkids videos and take a deeper dive into the “Art” part of STEAM. (They even offer a Time Machine!)
5. Make it fun with everyday materials.
You can’t go wrong when candy, blocks, Legos, marshmallows, toothpicks, and eggs are involved. Introduce basic engineering and physics concepts by having students build a gumdrop bridge or a marshmallow catapult. (Just be prepared to have snacks afterwards.) Or why not consider the classic egg drop challenge?
6. Visit space.
NASA now has an app that allows your class to get a better picture of the solar system (literally). You can view over 19,000 images, watch videos on-demand, discover the Solar System Exploration feature, and even track NASA missions.
7. Go beyond the day.
One of the goals of STEM/STEAM Day is to see that STEM/STEAM is everywhere. It’s not about one lesson or activity. For that reason, we suggest exploring our Sharing Goals and Aspirations and our Expand Possibilities collections. Both collections are designed to help students picture their futures (in STEM/STEAM or otherwise.)
For instance, here’s a reflection question from our Expand Possibilities collection that would be good to close-out STEM/STEAM Day:
In which of your classes are you learning something you will use in the future? How will you use what you learn?
A question like this helps students feel inspired about the possibilities and the connections between life and school.
Our final tip for STEM/STEAM Day is to have fun! STEM/STEAM should feel relevant and exciting. So share a mindset of exploration and let your class discover the wonders of STEM/STEAM for themselves.
Ready to start? Explore the Along Content Library for more inspiration.