New STEM education programs have emerged across the country as an initiative to enliven and improve the teaching for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. Elementary school STEM programs revolve around a set of experiments and lab workshops to engage students in a cross disciplinary format that encourage lateral thinking among a set of related disciplines. STEM education for middle and high school students continue the curriculum of experiments, and the workshop format is designed to hold a student’s interest and develop it into an interest in a prospective career beyond their high school education. A web-based virtual STEM experience takes full advantage of computer tools to cross fertilize between different types of STEM labs to integrate them into an immersive and engaging online event.

STEM education programs bring students to science, and elementary school STEM programs, STEM education for middle and high school students, and a web-based virtual STEM experience are making a difference in students’ lives nationwide.

In order for our nation to compete in a global economy we need to increase the number of students who graduate from college and pursue STEM careers. Beginning STEM exposure in elementary school is critical to the long term success of our students.
STEM education programs in the country
are dramatically under-resourced,
particularly in communities of poverty.
 

Elementary School STEM Programs

  • Candy Color Wheel: Mixing and Separating Colors
    Students will receive an introduction to color theory, with primary and secondary colors using an M&M color wheel. Color mixing is covered, and paper chromatography is used to separate color dyes for examination.

  • Curious Crystals
    Known household crystals are examined in detail, and the principles of crystallography are introduced through a series of tests that analyze color, shape, hardness and solubility. By using an unknown crystal that is chemically the same as one of the known crystals but with a different appearance students have the opportunity to gather enough evidence to identify the unknown crystal.

  • What’s The Matter?
    This experiment involves testing the effect water has on five different substances. By observing and recording their physical and chemical properties, students can begin to discuss the different states of matter and can compare, contrast, and categorize different substances based on scientific principles. Conservation of mass and the substructure of all matter are discussed. Continued observations over a week will reinforce these concepts.

 

STEM Education for Middle and High School Students

  • Middle School (6th – 8th grade)

    CO2 to the Rescue!
    Using a chemical reaction to save a cell phone. – This lesson opens with a design challenge: invent a small device with the ability to rescue a cell phone submerged in water. For example, a self-inflating balloon could act as a flotation device to prevent a cell phone from sinking or to retrieve it after it sinks. Chemical reactions are used to determine which of two acids used in combination with baking soda will produce the most carbon dioxide gas. Comparative measurements are made and applied to the flotation problem.

  • Density Rainbow
    The concept of density will be studied by creating a rainbow in a tube with sugar water solutions. Density is defined (density = mass / volume), and a tower is constructed with colored sugar water solutions to make a rainbow. In the process, students acquire knowledge of pipetting and dilutions while making sugar solutions that range from 0-60%.

  • Mystery of M&Ms
    The question, “What happens when colored candies are placed in water?” is answered with a series of experiments on M&M and Skittles and observing the diffusion of pigments and sugar in water.




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