One question we are asked at our STEM EDA workshops is, “How exactly do I implement this curricula?” Thankfully, a few of our Curriculum Development Specialists have spent years teaching the curricula. After putting our heads together, we came up with some tips and tricks when approaching our STEM EDA content. So for those teachers wondering with how to present STEM EDA, here are some tips/tricks used by others:
When prepping for these modules, think of your classes in terms of groups rather than individual students. Groups of four or less work best, as four seems to be the ceiling for group size.
For example, one teacher began by grouping her students and planning based on the number of groups per class. The more advanced classes had students working in pairs while other classes had groups of 3-4, based on the number of students in the class and their ability levels. Students always worked in the same group for an entire module, but groups would change from module to module.
The nature of the curriculum allows for students to take more ownership in their learning. You will find yourself more of a facilitator than lecturer, especially as the year progresses and you and your students become familiar with the style and flow of the material. Don’t feel as though you must control every second of the lesson as you allow students to explore without being giving all the answers. Go with it!
Take time to address questions that naturally come up in conversation. The class time can become more conversational and relaxed as students feel free to express questions and share ideas.
The STEM EDA curriculum is a project-based learning (PBL) platform. Therefore, you will not find many traditional classroom worksheets in the STEM EDA materials. A student journal of STEM EDA learning may be a better approach. The PBL method requires teachers to let go and encourages student choice and voice in learning. The brainstorming phase of the engineering design process is a critical process in PBL.
Organization is a key asset that helps tremendously. Find a long plastic box with a lid for each group, approximately 4 inches tall, 12-14 inches wide, and around 24 inches long. The groups keep their work and materials inside their box every day. This prevents lost materials and keeps everything organized. Groups can also choose a name for themselves and label their box with an index card. One person from each group can retrieve the box every day at the beginning of class but only open it once instructed to do so. That same person should be responsible for returning the box to the shelf at the end of class. These boxes can be especially helpful with multi-day engineering projects that have many parts.
Running through a module on your own will help you experience some of the major projects, so you have an idea of what will be expected from your students.
Using these tips, one teacher expressed, “After the first module was complete, and I took time to reflect, I found that I was much more relaxed than normal, and my job was becoming easier. The anxiety I felt at the beginning as I worried about resources and teaching an unfamiliar material had eased greatly.”
We hope that these suggestions are helpful as you implement our STEM EDA curricula into your classroom. Let us know of any further assistance or advice on the content you may need. We appreciate your feedback and wish you the best in the new school year!