This desire for a change has been in the back of my mind for some time now, but two major things prompted me to make it happen this summer. First, I went to a state technology conference and attended several sessions that really motivated me to incorporate technology INTO my curriculum--not just throwing in some random technology one day! Second, our governor passed a law that all students K-12 will be required to receive computer science education. This law will go into effect over the next three years, however, there's no time like the present, as they say!
So...I took a good look at my space, and decided to turn a corner of the classroom into a "STEM Lab". I want to do all the things, however, I decided to start small and chose five or less "new" ideas to incorporate into my science curriculum. I teach two classes of eighth grade physical science and two classes of seventh grade life science. I plan to use green screen videos, podcasting, stop motion animation, and drones to address various aspects of the curriculum. I purchased Parrot Mini-drones to teach coding, as well as real-life simulations where drones are used, LEGOs to use for stop motion animation and simulations with the drones, Play-Doh for modeling scientific concepts such as chemical bonding and cell structure, and I built two small recording booths from legal sized crates and soundproof foam squares to use with video narration and podcasts.
Sorting the LEGOs by color turned into a 4+ hour job, but the end result was pretty satisfying! I used Sterilite shoe boxes from Wal-Mart (always a great deal this time of year) to sort them. The metal shelf is from IKEA and its called the Hylis. The mini-figures are my pride and joy--hopefully I'll let the students use them!
STEM Lab in progress:
The lab still is not complete, however, I have made tremendous progress in the last week! The drones have separate spaces, my Play-Doh is organized, and the blue bins contain a class set of LEGO cars, that I will use as a Back-to-School activity (similar to a Master Builders competition), as well as other uses throughout the school year. The shelves pictured here are also from IKEA, they are the Kallax 2x4 cube shelves that I turned on their sides to define the space. The giant watercolor lightbulbs were printed at Walgreens as posters, mounted on foamboard, and hung from the ceiling using black paracord. The white photo frames you see scattered around are another IKEA favorite of mine--they are called Tolsby (only $1)! Finally, I cannot end this post without remarking on the wonderful world of Canva, for designing the signage you see throughout the lab, and Walgreens, for printing all the signage. Canva + Walgreens is a truly wonderful combination!
Since school has not started yet, I cannot tell you with absolute certainty how all this will go...I have the desire to make it work and hope my passion and enthusiasm will be enough for student engagement! Stay tuned for more information!