March 28, 2015

Sparking Student Motivation in Science Class

Today I'm joining Head Over Heels for Teaching and Teachers Are Terrific for two great linkies!


I primarily teach language arts; however, I do teach one section of science, sixth grade. I LOVE science, always have, and I try to imbue my enthusiasm throughout all my science lessons, and especially try to include something science in everything we do. My students enjoy science, no doubt. However, there is a magic word, that if I mention, really gets them motivated and ready to learn!

S.T.E.M.

S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities are super problem-solving, cooperative learning, higher level thinking skill, single class projects. Generally a problem is posed that student groups must solve using a particular set of materials given some specifications and a few constraints.

I first heard of S.T.E.M. three years ago during a summer inservice. As a school one of our goals was to increase student learning in mathematics. S.T.E.M. activities were seen as a way to make math appear fun and necessary. Teachers were encouraged to incorporate at least one S.T.E.M. activity in their classroom that year. Since then I've collected many activities from across the internet and on Teachers Pay Teachers (both free and paid).

The most recent S.T.E.M. activity that I shared with my sixers is this one I found on TpT by Hello Learning.


Students must design an airplane that will fly at least two aliens to their tropical vacation destination. Working in engineering teams and a budget of just ten dollars, students must complete the task in under an hour. In addition they are encouraged to follow the engineering design method (similar to scientific method) by keeping a design journal.


Notice the intense concentration on my students' faces. I took these pictures on Friday afternoon at 2:10pm... dismissal is 2:15pm. I could not get them to stop! Now that's motivation. If you haven't tried a S.T.E.M. activity yet, be sure to check them out. There is one sure to fit your classroom and students.

My students do still have twenty more minutes of design/work time prior to the official take-off Monday morning. Stop back next week sometime to see the results of this science/engineering challenge. Be sure to stop by Head Over Heels for Teaching to see more motivating classroom ideas and Teachers Are Terrific to see what's happening in science classrooms around the blogging world.



6 comments:

  1. Wow Angela! They do look intense and deep in their learning! I haven't tried S.T.E.M, do you think this activity would be suitable for fourth graders? I'd love to try it! You've motivated me too! :) Thanks for linking up and sharing!
    ~Joanne
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

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    1. The beauty of most S.T.E.M. activities is that they are easily differentiated for ages and skill levels. This particular S.T.E.M. could easily be completed by fourth graders. The first few that my sixers did, they didn't get as much out of as they are now. I announce the topic, aerospace flight, the day before with just a brief hint at the problem and they spend the evening reading, researching, and preparing! LOVE it! I look forward to a future blog post where you tell about your S.T.E.M. experiences!

      Angela

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing about STEM and linking up with my blog. I would say, by far, STEM is the class our students look forward to and request! It's a grand adventure!
    Carol
    Teachers Are Terrific!

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    1. What with Easter vacation at the end of this coming week, I'm planning a second S.T.E.M. for the last day before break! My sixers will be so surprised and pleased! I don't usually schedule them so close, but S.T.E.M. is my best shot at keeping the class engaged. Do you have a fav S.T.E.M.?

      Angela

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  3. This looks like a great little project to do during testing to keep minds engaged! :)

    -Lisa
    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

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    1. I've found that nearly every S.T.E.M. activity that I've tried is super engaging. It's the problem-solving element and simple directions. The best part is that for the teacher there is little prep and once the activity begins... watch and enjoy!

      Angela

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