Are you wondering how to make STEM happen with all these classroom restrictions? Teaching students online? Completely stuck with what you need to make teaching STEM happen in the COVID era?

You’re not alone. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with ways to still teach collaboration, critical thinking skills, and engineering principles to my students. Here’s my list of unique ways that I’m going to make teaching STEM happen this year.

Individual supplies in pencil cases for students to complete STEM activities.

How should I organize my STEM supplies?

Lean towards individual supplies. Provide each child with the things they need to complete the STEM activity. By doing this, there is no sharing or cross contamination. However this can get expensive. Look into getting donations from the community (if allowed) or setting up a Donors Choose Project.

There are so many ways to organize the supplies so that students are only taking what they need to build. You can prepare zip lock bags with the building supplies inside (gives the students a constraint with the amount of materials that are able to be used). They can be transferred home to build if you need that in your district’s learning plan.

Plastic storage containers filled with STEM materials to keep it organized for challenges.

It’s also possible to set up plastic shoe box cases with materials inside and have it labeled ahead of time with student names. They can return unfinished work into the box to be saved for later. These boxes can be easily wiped down and stored in a cabinet or under a desk for easy access.

If you’re unable to use any materials in school, choose STEM projects that have easily accessible materials at home (straws, cardboard, bottle caps, newspaper, etc.) or opt for a virtual lab/simulation if it’s appropriate for your age group.

How can students collaborate while maintaining social distancing?

Use technology. Have a plan to teach students how to effectively use the tech that’s available before starting major projects. If you need help my friend Branda has a crash course on Google that I CAN’T WAIT to use this year!

There are so many different apps and websites to allow for students to work together even when it can’t be face to face. My favorite would have to be FlipGrid if you are 1 to 1 with either laptops or tablets.

Students can record themselves explaining their project and the other students can leave feedback through comments. Setting up a classroom on their website is easy and it practices interpersonal skills!

If Flipgrid is not an option for you at this time, try using Google. You can set up a Google Meet for specific groups of students so they can chat together about building a project. Again this comes down to what’s allowed in your school district and the tools that you have.

What activities would be easy to do?

There’s a couple of ways to go here. If you want a typical STEM build where students can brainstorm, plan, create, and reflect I recommend you trying out this Design a Classroom STEM project.

The project has 5+ days of activities to help students adjust back into a classroom or think about it if they’re at home with distance learning. The unit focuses on the mental health of students while also focusing on COVID restrictions while in school to keep every student and teacher safe. Want more info? Click here.

If you’re not ready to do a full STEM challenge, I understand! These restrictions are hard to implement. I also have available a coding activity that teaches students Binary and how to Code their Name.

This multiple day lesson gives video instructions, templates, and an eBook to learn how to code in Binary. Students will take what they learned or use the Alphabet cards to write their names in 0s and 1s or black/white squares (depending on the age level).

It is both print and digital formats to help you navigate whatever teaching STEM looks like right now for you!

Using Binary to write a name resource

Got another idea? Let me know in the comments!

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