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St. Patrick's Day STEM with a Leprechaun

Fun STEM Activities for Elementary Students on St. Patrick's Day

STEM That is Easy to Implement

This is the fourth installment of the "Choose Your Own STEMventure" series. I wrote a short story about a leprechaun called Larry for St. Patrick's Day. No, we are not trapping the leprechaun! That has been done enough. In the story, Larry the leprechaun gets the opportunity to earn gold coins on St. Patrick's day by successfully completing various STEM challenges. Students choose how they want the story to progress; in completing the story students will complete 3-4 challenges. The story not only guides them through the engineering design process, it includes design constraints and areas for them to fill in their thoughts, plans, and testing data.

A Few of the Challenges Included 

Up first, is a rainbow challenge. If you are studying light, this is a great time to do this challenge. In addition to the stories requiring students to design and test structures, they will be exposed to various science and technology concepts, such as dimensional constraints, malware, and the color spectrum.

Another St. Patrick's Day STEM Challenge - Unplugged Coding


Not all kids love coding, but it is still great to expose them to simple logic problems that are the basis of coding. Creating a path is a simple way to have kids think ahead and plan out a set of directions.


This challenge has two versions, plus I included extension options in the digital download for additional challenges. The other challenges include:
  • a slide
  • a musical instrument
  • a bank that holds gold coins
  • two bonus challenges, including a gold coin flipping device!
You can do several of the challenges mentioned above (aside from the coding one) without the resource I created, though if you would like it for the story and guided design process, keep reading. Here is an example of the slide challenge:


Watch a Video Overview of St. Patrick's Day STEM


Find this STEM Resource on Teachers pay Teachers

If you would like to use the story and printables I've created, you can find them on Teachers pay Teachers at this link St. Patrick's Day STEM:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Discounted-first-24-Hours-St-Patricks-Day-STEM-Activities-3647067?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=St.%20Patrick's%20STEM


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Is Tpt for Schools Right for You?

How TpT for Schools Works

  • Your administrator joins TpT for Schools (it's free).
  • They invite you and your colleagues to join.
  • You request resources you need for your students.
  • Your administrator approves and purchases resources for you.
  • The resources are automatically delivered to your TpT account.
https://schools.teacherspayteachers.com/?utm_term=28tpt28b&utm_source=TAToolkit&utm_medium=T-A&utm_campaign=meredith2blogpostA

How does TpT for Schools benefit teachers like you?


More resources. Get more of the TpT resources you love. How? Request to have them paid for with school funds.

More inspiration. Find more great ideas for your classroom. How? See what resources other teachers in your school are finding and requesting.

More engagement. Spark more student learning with the most engaging, up-to-date resources. How? Use resources created by educators who understand what works in the classroom.


Get the conversation started! Click here to learn more about Teachers pay Teachers for Schools:
Easy access to resources you need, and it's so easy to join! How? Your administrator joins TpT for Schools (it's free).They invite you and your colleagues to join.  You request resources you need for your students. Your administrator approves and purchases resources for you. The resources are automatically delivered to your TpT account. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Digital Math Activities for 4th Grade

4th Grade Math Test Prep and Review for Google Classroom


I may be married to STEM, but math and I are BFFs. If you feel the same way about math, high five my friend. If math and you aren't really besties, or your students groan when you start talking about fractions, I have something that will make math just a wee bit more enjoyable in your digital classroom.


Digital math? Hmm, how does that work?

Though I have been creating resources for the digital classroom for years, it's always been more straightforward to create and use text-heavy styles as opposed to entering numbers or creating math exercises. Math, in my opinion, will always need pencil and paper at least some of the time. For this reason I have held off creating too many digital math resources because nothing "felt right."

Where digital and math DO seem to have common ground is in a review format (as well as instructional, but that's a topic for another time). For initial practice, I recommend sticking with pencil and paper. Once students have a reasonable level of mastery, digital review formats are AWESOME!

  • Digital formats engage students. 
  • Digital practice is imperative if your state testing is computer-based.
  • Flexibility to customize math practice for students is useful for student learning and teacher tracking.

State Testing in the 21st Century

Sometimes you HAVE to practice math on a screen. As more and more states more to online testing, it's important to get practice both with pencil and paper, and in a digital format. That's why in addition to having CCSS-aligned digital math practice, I have created this as an editable resource.


Did you say EDITABLE?

Yes! You can add as many new problems as you like. I even created a video guide to walk you through it in my downloadable resource. Another great feature is that these are self-checking so they can be used independently.

Watch the Video  Overview


Get Digital Math Practice for Google Classroom

Click to get this digital math review resource.When you download it, you will have over 65 problems to get started on right away, with the option to add as many additional problems as you'd like.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/4th-Grade-Math-for-Google-Classroom-Digital-EDITABLE-Fractions-Place-Value-3604927?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=Digital%20Math%204th%20Grade


STEM in the Classroom

STEM in the Classroom

STEM is based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.

Why is STEM important?

Not only are careers in STEM fields on the rise, having experience with hands-on problem solving while working well in a team offers benefits no matter what career the student eventually pursues.

Benefits of STEM Activities in the Classroom

There are many fantastic reasons to use STEM lessons in your classroom. Some of the main benefits of using STEM in your classroom are:
  • student engagement
  • collaborative and blended learning
  • naturally support a growth mindset
  • improvement of critical thinking skills

Student Engagement with STEM

One important one is student engagement. Kids are naturally curious and creative, and STEM lessons give them hands-on activities which allow them to tinker and do what kids do best, play. In playing with them, kids get a real and meaningful feel for how things work. STEM activities allow freedom to experiment and play, which is highly motivating for kids. Not only that, it can help keep them focused.


Collaborative and Blended Learning with STEM

STEM challenges work well as collaborative learning experiences while students work in small groups. What separates STEM from traditional science and math education is that it applies concepts learned in these classes. While students will still need to learn the scientific method as part of their science curriculum, using the engineering design process requires a different skill set.

STEM and a Growth Mindset



STEM challenges lend themselves well to a growth mindset, asking students to persevere until design criteria is met. Because there are often multiple solutions to a given STEM problem, students must work both creatively and diligently.

STEM is 21st Century Learning

Utilizing STEM in the classroom provides opportunities for all level of learners to master skills and content necessary to succeed in the the 21st century. Using a variety of activity-based learning models, students are provided opportunities to explore learning in a rigorous way. Use STEM to develop reasoning skills, critical thinking skills, creativity, and innovation through integrated and connected STEM curriculum. These experiences help provide equity among learners from diverse backgrounds. STEM has the potential to provide true mastery for all learners.

Get Started with STEM

I have numerous resources available for STEM learning, many of them are free for educators. Just join my newsletter list to gain access to my free resource library, or head to my Teachers pay Teachers shop to find both free and paid resources for K-8 STEM.


Valentine's Day STEM Adventure with Cupid

Fun STEM Activities for Elementary Students on Valentine's Day

Candy Heart STEM That is Easy to Implement

This is the third installment of the "Choose Your Own STEMventure" series. I wrote a short story about Cupid for Valentine's Day. Don't worry, there's no lovey-dovey stuff. In the story, Cupid is helping kids and animals work through some quarrels. Each choice leads to a STEM challenge, so that in completing the story students will complete 3-4 challenges. The story not only guides them through the engineering design process, it includes design constraints and areas for them to fill in their thoughts, plans, and testing data.

One Challenge All Students Complete - Unplugged Coding



Not all kids love coding, but it is still great to expose them to simple logic problems that are the basis of coding. Creating a path is a simple way to have kids think ahead and plan out a set of directions - this can be useful in many other non-coding areas, such as cooking, following a map, or even executing a detailed set of drills at soccer practice! The story is set up in such a way that all students will walk through this particular challenge, though the other challenges presented are up to the student. The other challenges include:
  • a candy heart tower
  • a candy heart maze
  • a container that holds candy hearts
  • a parachute for Cupid
  • a bow for Cupid (optional, for any class that has a serious case of shoot-your-eye-out-itis)
You can do the challenges above (aside from the coding one) without the resource I created. Here are some examples of the others:

Other ideas for Candy Heart STEM

  • Create a pattern with the hearts and have someone else decipher it. Is it by color? By saying? Something else?
  • Create a candy heart launcher! 
  • Set up an experiment to try and figure out the fastest way to dissolve candy hearts. Is it with cold water? Warm water? Water with baking soda in it? Milk (if no allergies)? Something else? Get ideas from students and see if they have any creative solutions to try!

Find this STEM Resource on Teachers pay Teachers

If you would like to use the story and printables I've created, you can find them on Teachers pay Teachers at this link Valentine's Day STEM:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/50-off-for-24-hrs-Valentines-Day-STEM-Activities-Healing-Hearts-with-Cupid-3588754?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=Valentine's%20Day%20STEMventure%20

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Popsicle Stick STEM Challenges - Fun Craft Stick Activities for Kids

Craft Stick STEM Challenges Your Kids will Love

Whether you call them popsicle sticks, craft sticks, tongue depressors, or paddlepop sticks, you are probably familiar with a number of ways to use this versatile material.
 

Get Started with Popsicle Stick STEM

Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The links below are Amazon affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
 
You can use standard popsicle sticks, but I find them much more challenging to work with than large, 6" x 3/4" sticks. Make sure you sort through them and remove any that are broken, split, or have splintering edges. If you are looking for jumbo colorful ones like the ones above, I got mine here.

Create a Popsicle Stick Bridge

A really easy challenge to get started with is to create a popsicle stick bridge. Use binder clips to hold the sticks together and make it easily reconfigurable. You can create a simple ladder style design or try something a little more funky. Get creative and see what works! For older kids, you can use hot glue to create some really intricate and large bridges with a long span.

Make it easier for little ones:Binder clips can be hard to work for small fingers. Attach Velcro/hook & loop stickers to the ends of craft sticks for easy building. In addition to bridges, they can use the sticks to create 2D shapes and even letters.

Create a Stick Bomb Chain Reaction 

This one will entice even reluctant kids to get in on the STEM action! Use a weaving technique to apply tension to the sticks. You can work with a variety of patterns, from simple to the more complex. For very simple designs, visit this YouTube channel
as he has some great tutorials (tip - watch at .75 speed because he talks really quickly!). Or you can try to create a pattern like the one below - just search "stick bomb" on YouTube and you'll find a variety of videos explaining how to weave it. I recommend working on a carpet if possible because it's easier to slide the sticks into place.

Popsicle Stick Marble Maze STEM

This one is a bit tricky but SO much fun! Create a marble maze in a box. If you are working with your own kid(s), you can use a box cutter to poke the sticks through the cardboard to secure them. Otherwise, duct tape works well. Pro tip: tilt the box back slightly to help keep the marble from falling out, or construct "channels" by making an L-shape with two sticks.

See a few popsicle stick STEM ideas in action

 

Other Craft Stick STEM Ideas

Craft Stick Art or Bow and Arrow

If you want to get really creative, you can soak them in water for a few hours or overnight, and then bend to the desired shape. This is a lot of fun, but takes some careful planning ahead. You'll need to then clamp the sticks in place somehow until they dry. There are some amazing designs you can create!

Craft Stick Harmonica or Kazoo

Use craft sticks in your STEM station!

Craft stick shapes match up game

Try These STEM Challenges with the Engineering Design Process

If you want to add more rigor to these challenges by following the engineering design process, please visit the resource I put together. It includes the 3 challenges above plus two more. With this  guided STEM resource, students need to meet the design criteria specified to complete the challenge. It's even easy enough to leave with a sub!

You can find Craft Stick STEM Challenges here:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Popsicle-Stick-STEM-Challenges-Simple-STEM-with-Craft-Sticks-3579562?utm_source=Momgineer%20Blog&utm_campaign=Craft%20Stick%20STEM

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Listen to This! 10 Great STEM Podcasts for Teachers

Top 10 Podcasts for STEM Teachers and Parents (and finding time to listen to them)

I resisted podcasts for a long time because I didn't think I had time for them. I also prefer to read over listening to get my information, but over time podcasts have really grown on me. Hopefully you are already an avid podcast fiend...but if not (I understand, really) read on anyway for some ideas on how to incorporate these into your life. You might even enjoy them!
Listen on iTunes or wherever you enjoy podcasts. *Please note, most of these are appropriate for kids, too, but I did find a few episodes that I'd pass on sharing with my own kids and listen alone instead.
  1. STEM everyday: Listen to an interview with the EiE founder, or find topics such as STEM projects with an education focus. Integrate STEM into your everyday!
  2. STEM Diversity - This is an interview podcast focuses on professionals with underepresented backgrounds - great for inspiring students who might not think they have what it takes because they don't see STEM professionals that look like them. (yes, they've got it!)
  3. STEAMchannel UCTV - strong focus on design thinking, empathising with the people in need to make sure the design needs are being met. This podcast also includes a series with Sally Ride.
  4. Lab Out Loud - sponsored by the NSTA and includes everything from underwater robots to a Mole Day podcast.
  5. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast, from Pios Labs - a great podcast that explores many facets of K-12 STEM. From the website, "Listen as we try to find better ways to teach and inspire kids in invention, problem-solving, persistence, teamwork, and imagination."
  6. The Naked Scientists Podcasts - Learn about space, questions answered you never even dreamed of asking, and questions you may have asked your kids, such as "Why do people pick their noses?"
  7. The Wired Homeschool - As a fellow homeschooling parent, I was thrilled to find this one. It's great for parents and teachers, too. Listen to screen time management ideas or about internet safety for kids.
  8. MakerCast - A podcast for makers! Get ideas from these makers for projects you could incorporate into your own classroom.
  9. When you don't have a lot of time: 60 Second Science or Engineering Word of the Day (Engineering WOTD also from Pios Labs)
  10. STEM Read - This is a podcast from NPR that explores the connections between STEM and storytelling. As someone who enjoys making a literacy-STEM connection, this one had to make my top 10 list.

Tips for Finding Time to Listen to Podcasts

You might think you don't have time to listen to podcasts. I know I felt this way until I got a bit creative with the when of it.


Podcast Tip #1 - Listen on your Commute

Maybe just on your ride TO work, since the ride home your brain is probably too tired to pay attention, am I right? Listen any time your hands are occupied - like when you're driving, prepping dinner, braiding your child's hair, or you are getting ready in the morning.


Podcast Tip #2 - Listen on your Workout

This is my favorite way to listen to podcasts. When I'm running, I often like to listen to a playlist I'd find embarrassing to share, but for a few runs a week I switch it up and listen to a podcast. Whether you are pumping iron, walking, running, or doing yoga, try adding a podcast to the mix.

My last tip, though I'm sure not everyone will agree...

Podcast Tip #3 - Speed it UP

I'm going to be honest. I'm not the most patient person I know. It's not something I'm always proud of, and I often have to remind myself to slow down. Sometimes speeding up a podcast slightly can really help, though. I'm not talking about 2X or even 1.5X, but most podcast apps allow you to speed it up to 1.1 or 1.2. It's subtle, but it's something.

If you don't want to speed up the audio, there are apps that can eliminate pauses to save time. Try Overcast with SmartSpeed.

Share your favorite STEM podcasts!

Join the STEM educator Facebook Group and share your favorite STEM podcasts with us.

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