Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’


I love when I get the opportunity to provide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) training to educators for more than a one-day session. With a three-day plus training session you can begin to dig deeper into STEM practices and content aside from just scratching the surface with one day sessions. Even better, is when the client has scheduled on-going, sustainable training to take place in the near future as a follow-up and extension of the initial training. This type of professional staff development will provide teachers with a strong foundation to be able to visualize the actual implementation of highly effective STEM practices as well as gaining deeper knowledge of the STEM content.

I recently conducted a three-day STEM teacher training institute for Kansas teachers. The group consisted of grades 3-8 which is a workable mix of grade levels. The group experience with incorporating STEM practices and content ranged from advanced to very little experience. Within the three day institute teachers were observing as well as modeling inquiry based teaching practices. Conducting STEM investigations that incorporated 21st century skills including: critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration.

Every STEM investigation teachers undertook provided them with the opportunity to practice inquiry and incorporate 21st century skills. A major focus was placed on designing opportunities for students to incorporate science and engineering practices including the Engineering Design Process.

Additionally, teachers were introduced to the use of reflective journaling in STEM classrooms which is aligned to the learning goals of NGSS. Throughout the three days of training the following STEM content and investigations were undertaken by the teachers:

  • Engineering Design Process Challenges
  • Incorporating affordable and meaningful technology
  • Polymer Science
  • Connecting Math and Architectural Principles
  • Biomimicry
  • Solar Energy
  • Electricity (including littleBits and Squishy Circuits)
  • Reverse Engineering
  • Force, Motion and Energy Concepts

Throughout the three-day institute I observed and heard many remarks from the teachers as they began to truly understand how incorporating STEM practices and investigations is so much more than “hands-on-science”. Designing a classroom and STEM experiences that will provide the students to be the “thinkers and doers”, to develop and strengthen their 21st century skills, and apply what they have practiced and learned to the “real-world” is what we should be striving for within all of our classrooms.

I gave the teachers plenty of time to reflect on the investigations we undertook throughout the three-days, as well as having the teachers discuss the actual implementation of what they had undertaken during the training within their own classroom. It’s essential in professional staff development that the presenter provide time for the participants to reflect and discuss otherwise it’s just another training that goes by the wayside.

I’m looking forward to hearing from the participants and the administrators of how their classrooms will transform throughout the rest of the year, next year and beyond. The following photos are a sampling of the STEM investigations undertaken during the three day institute. For more information about the STEM, STEAM, NGSS teacher training and keynotes Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski conducts year-round, worldwide contact her via the contact page found on this site.

STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teacher training by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

 

Elementary Teachers Explore STEM Practices and Content

on January 18, 2017 in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Comments Off on Elementary Teachers Explore STEM Practices and Content

Recently conducted a full-day science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workshop for the 5th Grade Team of Kimball Wiles Elementary in Gainesville, STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-GrabowskiFlorida. 5th Grade Chairperson, Natalie Wong wrote a STEM grant which was awarded through the Education Foundation of Alachua County under the Catalyst for Change Grant. With the awarded funds, Mrs. Wong purchased STEM equipment and materials for the school, as well as scheduled STEM teacher training for the 5th Grade Team which included Teachers of the Gifted. It was a great session, the team was extremely motivated throughout the training they definitely embraced the foundational principles of STEM, as well as teaching via inquiry practices.

We started off the day with discussing and modeling ways to develop a student-driven classroom, and teaching to develop and strengthen 21st century skills.

I then introduced the group to the engineering design process via conducting a mini engineering design challenge. The groups were given the task of building the tallest freestanding structure in 15 minutes using only 15 pipe cleaners. I particularly like this mini challenge for numerous reasons: quick, minimal materials, incorporates all components of the engineering design process, and it can be accomplished with elementary students and up. At the end of 15 minutes both group structures were freestanding, the tallest one measured in at 13 inches.

Throughout the day teachers were introduced to a wide-array of technology that can be incorporated into the elementary STEM classroom including: littlebits, Ozobot, Dash and Dot, digital scales and calipers, mini illuminated microscopes, and digital microscopes. I have found through the years that many of the schools I provide training have limited their use of technology to computers and robotics. During my trainings, I try and incorporate a wide-array of technology that is used in the work field (levels, digital measuring devices, and more).

Working in small groups, the teachers had the opportunity to use several different littlebit kits including the Korg Kit which was well-received by the group. After the teachers explored the littlebit Kits I introduced the team to Squishy Circuits, a project from the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas. Teachers used Playdoh® (which is a conductor), batteries, and assortment of low-voltage gadgets such as LEDs, buzzers etc. to make complete circuits.

I also introduced teachers to incorporating building materials and polymers in their nature of science lessons. Change up their lessons to focus on materials science, allowing their students to compare and contrast building materials, polymers, and more. STEM is about making connections with the real-world, allowing students to observe, explore and conduct experiments with newly invented materials is exciting and relevant.

We closed off the session with exploring the connections of architecture and geometry. Discussing the importance of patterns, shapes, and strength in buildings as well as in nature. Teachers were introduced to constructing 3 dimensional shapes with simple materials (toothpicks and garbonzo beans). These shapes can then be dipped into a soap solution to observe faces, vertices, and edges. These shapes can also be used to construct buildings, and conduct mass loading challenges as well as models of cities, bridges etc.

It was a great session, the teachers were thoroughly engaged throughout the entire session. They saw first hand the beauty and power of teaching via inquiry, and designing lessons that incorporate all four disciplines of STEM within a lesson. I see great STEM challenges in the near future for the students of Kimball Wiles Elementary. A big thank you to Mrs. Wong for writing the grant, and taking on the leadership role to bring STEM practices and content into the classroom. For more information about the science, NGSS, and STEM teacher training and interactive keynotes I conduct contact me via the contact page on this website. The following photos provide a snippet of the training session.

STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski STEM teachertraining by Dr Diana Wehrell-Grabowski

 

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