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Providing Hands-on STEM Learning Experiences for All Students

Sep 11, 2020 2020-09-11

By Naomi Harm

This blog is the second in a series on the importance of mentoring girls and young women through a compassionate “lean-in” culture of practice. Check out the first post “Mentoring Girls and Young Women Through a Compassionate ‘Lean-In’ Culture of Practice.” This post will provide just-in-time resources to help you model how to provide access and equity to robust science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources for ALL students, and how to infuse hands-on STEM learning experiences throughout your subject areas and all K–12 grade-level bands.

As September starts, you are likely now well underway with remote and blended teaching and learning experiences with students. You are persevering the best you can during these trying times with the global COVID-19 pandemic. Yet we need to acknowledge and provide you hope of what this particular month has to offer to empower you as an educator to tap into some creative teaching and learning opportunities that will enhance the learning experiences for your students. The month of September connects the STEM learning dots that infuses rich literacy experiences, research-based practices on the importance of play, voice and choice STEM learning opportunities to show-what-they-know, and best of all will enhance the blended teaching and learning experiences you provide with your students so they too can be creators of their futures.

Checkout these September holiday events to celebrate STEM with your students:

Learner-Centered Questioning Techniques
How you pose a STEM inquiry-based question can make all the difference in the world to a child. It can transform the ordinary activity into an extraordinary learning opportunity that can influence a child’s growth mindset for a lifetime.

  • What are you most interested in learning about STEM and why?
  • How, why, and where do you learn best?
  • What do you love to do that I may not know about as your teacher?
  • How do you like to learn and work with your classmates?
  • What does learning success look like to you?
  • How does STEM make you feel?
  • What types of STEM learning experiences come easy to you and why?
  • If you could, would you peer coach a classmate with a STEM activity?

Women Role Modeling and Mentoring Strategies
The following is an exemplar collection of mentoring and role modeling strategies to jumpstart your STEM student advocacy and pursuit of STEM passions:

  1. Advisor, Teacher, and Role Models
  2. Challenging Our Gendered Idea of Mentorship
  3. Meet Code Creators
  4. Role Models and Mentors
  5. Role Model Strategies
  6. SciGirls Role Model Profiles
  7. STEAM Careers For The 21st Century
  8. STEM Role Models For Mentoring Disabled Students
  9. The Roles Woman Can Play as Leadership Mentors
  10. Why Girls Need More Mentors in STEM

STEM and Computer Science Hands-on Experiences and Activities
I would like to provide you with my “lean-in and getting started” collection of my top 10 favorite activities and resources. These resources provide girls and young women of all abilities the necessary hands-on STEM/STEAM and computer science learning experiences to build their learning confidence.

  1. Access and play the Mentor Hats card game or have students design their own Passion to Purpose dream project.
  2. Play the Luna Games - Women In Science: The Video Game or print and play the Women In Science DIY card kit.
  3. Engage your entire class in a creative conversation based on this “Motivating Girls to Lean-In” infographic and have students design their own STEM passion-based infographic utilizing the free versions of Canva, Ease.ly, Piktocharts, or Google Drawings.
  4. Provide students choice of 35 design challenges through Journey to City X Adventures in Engineering for Kids to design their futures.
  5. Have students design their own board or card games based on female role models they admire in their communities.
  6. Introduce students to vision or dream boards and have them design their own STEM or computer science vision of their future selves demonstrating what change they will contribute to make the world a better place for others.
  7. Invite students to participate as a collaborative team in Career Village and ask a woman-in-leadership expert questions about future STEM or computer science career pathways. Or Request a Woman Scientist through Skype a Scientist. Students can ask questions of the scientist to build new knowledge and empathize with her struggles, challenges, and accomplishments.
  8. Explore through self-directed choice the SciGirls website of girls, young women, and female role models and mentors to learn from.
  9. Write a letter to your future self focused on computer science and STEM goals and passions.
  10. Provide choice and voice learning experiences where girls can tinker, play, and make with a variety of STEM mediums to discover their personal interests. Some of my favorite “getting started” STEM resources include the following:

Enjoy the STEM-focused learning month of September by trying just one or two new resources, strategies, or activities to model with your students to engage them with these learner-centered opportunities, as well as to empower them to think like a computer scientist and entrepreneur and ultimately design like an engineer. These experiences will provide them with new learning confidence and the pursuit of focusing on STEM-driven career passion to make our world a better place for future generations.

Always model your compassionate educational demeanor and remember your words of influence will resonate with a child for a lifetime. Your words matter and will build a strong foundation with all students of every ability to build their learning confidence, pathways of resilience, and perseverance to pursue and attain their future STEM career goals. Make a commitment now to be the change in STEM education for ALL students, yet especially with our girls and young women, so their dreams can become a STEM reality through a compassionate “lean-in” culture of practice.

Naomi Harm is an edtech woman in leadership, thought leader, and influencer, with a passion for instigating STEM innovation into all of her professional learning offerings. She welcomes every opportunity to share her expertise of brain-based instructional approaches, supported with technology literacy best practices with K–12 students and educational leaders worldwide. Her more than 20 years in the educational learning space reflects a passion-driven approach to leading and learning as a CUE STEM Educational Specialist, ISTE Faculty Instructional Coach, Google Certified Innovator, Woman in Leadership Coach and Mentor, CS for All Teacher Ambassador, Master LEGO Educator, Makey Makey Ambassador, Book Creator Ambassador, and CEO/founder of Innovative Educator Consulting company. Continue the learning conversation with Naomi by connecting with her through email, Twitter, LinkedIn, or her website.

Underserved Populations Educational Technology Blended Learning Computer Science/Coding/Programming 21st Century Themes

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