STEAM–Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math–is education’s new STEM. By adding the creativity and problem-solving skills that are part and parcel to Anything Art, students have permission to use colors, images, and outside-the-lines thinking to address Big Ideas and Essential Questions.
I’ve written before on ways to use STEM every day in classwork. Here are twelve of my favorite STEAM projects where artistic thinking becomes the engine for unpacking solutions. I think you’ll like them.
1st-2nd grade; free
Use Classroom Architect as the canvas to redesign the classroom layout by dragging-and-dropping chairs, shelves, tables, computers, and more within a virtual classroom. A text tool allows students to label parts, add their name, and append notes that explain what they created. When done, students can take a screenshot and save/share/print.
With this project, students learn spatial layout, rudimentary engineering, and the importance of a proper room arrangement in their learning and class experiences.
Zap Zap Math is a free gamified way to teach K-8 math skills that are tied to many national standards (like Common Core). Its format is colorful and engaging, the music lively, and the space-themed layout exactly right for the age group. The over 150 games are fast-paced and interactive and cover over 180 math topics. Students direct their learning with an avatar (called a ‘mathling’) that identifies their work and keeps them engaged. Read my full review of Zap Zap Math here.
Zap Zap Kindergarten Math, geared for ages 3-6, is the newest member of the Zap Zap Math family. It includes 160+ visually-stimulating math games that make learning fun and engaging while students develop math and thinking skills. It covers foundation skills like addition, subtraction, place value, and measurement and data, and is aligned with international math standards such as the US’s Common Core. Each game is preceded by quick audio directions and ongoing gameplay is narrated so all levels of readers can understand. Analytics track and evaluate progress.
Players learn to:
- Develop number sense.
- Count to 100 by ones and tens.
- Count forward and backward from a given number.
- Compare 2 numbers as greater than, less than, or equal.
- Understand mathematical equality.
- Solve simple addition and subtraction equations up to 20.
- Differentiate two objects in terms of physical attributes; i.e. size and height.
- Identify shapes as two-dimensional or three-dimensional.
- Compose larger shapes out of smaller shapes.
- Access a library of over thirty ORIGO 1 videos (and growing) through YouTube (search ORIGO Education) and on their Vimeo Channel www.vimeo.com/channels/ORIGO1
with strategies and models to build fluency and understanding. Topics include strategies for all four operations, using the number line, fractions, the counting principles, and more! Be sure to check these out and subscribe to the channels.
- Join a new learning community called Mathematics for Young Learners on edWeb.net – www.edweb.net/mathlearners to get access to live and recorded webinars on relevant math topics.
- Sign up for the next math webinar, like this one called The Number Line: More on Making the Most of Math Models.
- Builds conceptual understanding through language and discourse, powerful visual models, and engaging activities that foster student thinking.
- Drives the connections between and across concepts.
- Supports computational fluency with extendable strategies and meaningful practice.
- Incorporates rich problem solving, practical application, and open investigation.
Zap Zap Math is a free gamified way to teach math skills that’s tied to many national and international standards (like Common Core). Its format is colorful and engaging, music lively, and layout intuitive. The over 150 games are fast-paced and interactive, and cover over 180 math topics. Students direct their learning with a unique space-themed avatar (called a ‘mathling’) that identifies their work and keeps them engaged.
My favorite characteristics of Zap Zap Math include:
- Math topics are delivered in a module-oriented manner. Topics include:
– Pre-school Math
- Each math topic is divided into four skills: Training, Accuracy, Speed and Mission, with appropriate games to support each goal.
- Games advance as the child progresses.
- Games are more than rote drills, intended to train critical thinking, problem-solving, and promote logic in decisions.
- Games can be played offline, in multiple languages (with more planned before the end of the year).
- Teachers can add quizzes that assess student math knowledge by selecting the grade, the topic, one of the suggested Zap Zap Math games, and the duration.
- Teachers (or homeschooling parents) can track the progress of up to thirty students organized into a class where they are able to gauge learning outcomes via a web-based Learning Analytics Dashboard. Each child’s progress can be viewed remotely as they play Zap Zap Math.
- The Education account includes a student report card so all stakeholders can track student progress.
- Zap Zap Math can be played as an app or on a PC via a download.
Origo Education’s award-winning Stepping Stones 2.0 K-6 math program (with a separate program for pre-K) is versatile, easy-to-use, and nicely differentiated for varied learning and teaching strategies. It is available in English and Spanish with versions aligned with Common Core Standards or the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Its unique system of scaffolding lesson-to-lesson and circling back on important concepts not only reinforces learning but enhances student higher order thinking skills. Teaching materials include an abundance of resources, professional development, videos, and help. Lesson plans are delivered via a granular combination of rigorous critical thinking activities, real-world problems, and interactive digital games that make implementing the program easy and flexible for any type of classroom and fully supportive of a schoolwide goal of college and career readiness.
How to use Stepping Stones
I posted this last year, but it’s still valid. One addition: new activities down toward the bottom of the post.
Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 since 3, 1, and 4 are the three most significant digits of π in the decimal form. Daniel Tammet, a high-functioning autistic savant, holds the European record for reciting pi from memory to 22,514 digits in five hours and nine minutes.
STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These four topics cover every aspect of our life. Science is our natural world, from the land we live on to the oceans and space we aspire to visit. It’s the weather that changes our picnic plans to the natural disaster that destroyed a town in our own state. Technology includes the iPads toddlers play on, the smartphones we use to guide our days, the apps that turn our lights on and off–or start our car. Engineering is why traffic flows smoothly on crowded roads and why bridges survive despite massive loads of trucks, and is the foundation for much research into global warming and alternative energy. Mathematics happens everywhere–at the grocery store, the bank, the family budget, the affirmative nod from parents to update a child’s computer to their agreement to add apps from the app store.
Every corner of every life includes STEM, which explains the increasing interest in STEM-educated students to fill the nation’s jobs. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. According to the Bureau of Labor and Management:
… jobs in computing and mathematics are projected to grow by 20 percent.
Significantly, STEM degree holders have a higher income even in non-STEM careers. The reason: Students trained in STEM subjects think critically, develop creative solutions, solve problems rather than look to others for solutions, and create logical processes that can be duplicated in all parts of their life. STEM-trained students understand how to look at the forest and find the particular tree.
Netherlands-based Digipuzzle is an online educational resource that offers hundreds of G-rated learning games for younger audiences, many in both Spanish and English. Topics include math, animals, typing, geography, spelling, letter recognition, holidays, seasons, dinosaurs, USA, other games, and more. Many of these are divided into subcategories — for example: Math includes games and counting, fractions, addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Digipuzzle even offers holiday games. The site is easy to navigate, fun to use, and completely free. It is the labor of love from Marcel van de Wouw. It includes not only lots of themed puzzles, but Sudoku, line puzzles, search puzzles, dot-to-dot, tangrams, mosaics, and more.
You can use Digipuzzle on the web or as a mobile app.
Each game includes a sidebar with easy-to-understand icons that answer questions, access settings, and click you through available games.
Each game can be played at the level a student is comfortable — easy, normal, or hard — and can include audio or silent.
Last year, I did a poll on the meaning of the word ‘turkey’. This was to demonstrate how powerful symbols are to your students and do so with an authentic use of technology to support discussion on math, language standards, and the holidays. As a summation to your discussion with students on symbols, idiomatic expressions, geography, farms, or another topic, post this on your Smartscreen. The poll includes lots of definitions for the word ‘turkey’. Have each student come up some time during the day (or class) and make their choice.
- C-STEM Studio — A Great Way to Blend Math and Robotics
- 10 Tech Tools for Your Math Class
- Zap Zap Math–Clever, Robust Math App for K-6
- Celebrate Pi With Your Students
- How to Interest the Next Generation of Great Minds to Work in STEM Fields
- 32 Websites to Support Math Automaticity in K-5
- 3 Websites to Gamify Your Math Class
- Website Review: ProdigyGame.com
- How to Teach Students to Solve Problems
- Math Books for Elementary Grades
Lesson plans about math and tech:
Bundle of lesson plans mixing math and tech
How to Use Khan Academy (free lesson plan)