Had the pleasure of introducing STEM philosophy and content to a small group of sixth grade Physical Science teachers recently. Teachers were introduced to the foundation of STEM education via hands-on-minds-on, inquiry-based investigations. I began the workshop with having teachers discuss the process of thinking critically, and how to go about designing lessons and a STEM classroom environment that promotes critical thinking. The use of reflective journaling was introduced, which surpasses the “traditional” teacher driven science notebook. Reflective journals are “student driven” helping to develop and strengthen the 4C’s of STEM education: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. We then proceeded to go outside for a STEM Walk that focused on materials science. So instead of covering nature of matter, states of matter, phase changes etc. through “traditional” hands-on science “cookbook” oriented lessons. The teachers went outside to observe states of matter, phase changes etc.. occurring in nature and in man-made structures. Instead of talking about rust, go outside and look for examples of rust in buildings, cars, etc. Teachers used scientific tools while outside including: levels, eye loupes, rulers, collected specimens, and wrote observations in their journals. During the two-day physical science-based STEM teacher training teachers were introduced to integrating technology into their lessons by using digital-based tools including: digital microscopes, digital calipers, and digital balances. Teachers conducted hands-on-minds-on, inquiry-based investigations to explore the following physical science-based concepts:
Nature of Matter, Chemical and Physical Changes, Behavior of Light, Force, Motion and Energy concepts. The two day training concluded with teachers conducting hands-on investigations to explore solar energy. The following photos are representative of the STEM investigations undertaken during the two day teacher training workshop.