One model for creating STEM lessons is using the Engineering Design Process. The idea is to guide students through a process of discovery.
|Engineering Design Process|
One of my goals has been to turn some of my traditional lesson plans into STEM lessons. I have found that if my students are Imagining, the rest of the cycle falls into place. By Imagining, I mean brainstorming, looking at models or pictures and making inferences, researching, or discovering something on their own.
A chemistry example of this could be in the teaching of periodic trends. Traditionally I have used a lecture to teach students what the trends on the periodic table are and what causes them. I have followed that up by having them graph these trends. In an effort to have my students Imagine, I reversed this strategy last semester. The only front loading I did for the students was to give them the definitions of atomic radius, ionization energy, and electronegativity. I then challenged them with discovering the trends by graphing them. In groups, they analyzed their graphs and brainstormed causes for the trends. Rather than lecturing, I followed up the activity with a discussion that reinforced what they had discovered. This activity required the same amount of time as my traditional lesson.
Once I decided what part of the process students could Imagine, the rest of my lesson fell into place. Did they build a space shuttle or solve the world's energy crisis? No. Not yet. They did, however, take control of their own learning. They created a model for understanding the periodic table that we can improve upon throughout the remainder of the course.