Science and technology are constantly evolving fields, meaning every STEM curriculum needs to be updated and improved on occasion. Your students have been born into the Internet Age. Many of them don’t remember a time before smartphones and tablets. While this can be enough to make some of us feel a little bit old, it’s also very exciting. These students who have never lived in a world of dial-up Internet are our future, and they deserve an updated, modern, and effective STEM curriculum that shows them the relevance of science and technology.
1. Implement Inquiry-Based Learning
Instead of starting with facts about rocks and minerals, begin by asking questions about them and how they make up our Earth. They’ll be much more willing to learn about the components that make up our Earth, as well as other science subjects, when they start from a place of questioning and curiosity.
2. Engage Higher Order Thinking
Give your students the opportunity to create, evaluate, and analyze. When presenting scientific facts, don’t just have your students memorize them. Instead, talk about the why, what, and how associated with science and technology. Explore the relationships between facts, how we came to understand them, and how we can apply them to new situations.
3. Demonstrate the Relevance of Science
When students see why something matters, they’re more likely to show interest in discovering more about it. For example, when teaching a lesson on forces and motion, you can ask the question, "Why is it so easy to slip on ice?" to help your students discover the importance of friction.
4. Bring in Professional Engineers and Scientists
Show students how what they’re learning in the classroom matters in the real world. Have professional engineers and scientists talk to your students about what they do on a daily basis and how they use STEM. Then give your students the reins and have them use the same STEM processes to see and feel what it is like to be scientists and engineers.
5. Explore Local Phenomena
Is there a storm front moving in? Are you near a national park? Use local resources to contextualize classroom learning. Connect what’s happening in your environment and community to your classroom.
6. Create Meaningful Unit Assessments
Use meaningful assessment questions that gauge students' ability to analyze, evaluate, and create solutions for problems. The more your students can use higher order thinking, the more able they’ll be to problem-solve in the future.