STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. STEAM has an additional letter, which stands for art.
Bringing STEM to the Classroom
As a way to understand how to bring science experiments, STEM, STEAM, and/or any other form of experiential learning, I think of four different ways teachers can implement it in the classroom. This includes using the activity before, during, after, or as an entire lesson.
If STEM, for example, is used before the lesson it is an activity to introduce students to the lesson. This activity can be seen as a hook to the lesson. However, I see it more as an activity that lends itself to building hands-on knowledge for our students, as a way to prepare for the lesson.
These activities can also be used to teach the lesson, which means the activities are implemented during the lesson. For example, if learning about the digestive tract and how food travels through to the stomach, teachers can teach the lesson in tandem with a STEM activity.
Most often, I implement a STEM activity after teaching a lesson. The lesson provides students with some information and knowledge around a particular area, which students can use when working on their activity. For example, if we learn about wind and wind energy, we can build wind turbines as a STEM activity to connect our learning to the lesson.
Finally, STEM can be the entire lesson in itself. The bridge building competition is one such example, which students enjoy working on.