Top Curriculums to Implement STEAM/STEM Now

Post in News by Laura Jakubowski on 15th October 2019

STEAM-curriculum-now

STEAM/STEM can be a tricky thing to begin teaching in your classroom when you’re not sure where to start. There are so many directions you can go based on the standards you choose to follow, the framework you choose to bind together your class, the subject you wish to focus on, or even the technology you decide to incorporate into your lessons. With traditional STEAM or STEM teachers in mind, it seemed prudent to share my favorite STEAM/STEM curriculums. Although many of these curriculums happen to center on coding, bear in mind that coding is not the sole focus of STEAM or STEM. Lots of companies or products out there have great curriculums, but these happen to be a few of my favorites for each grade level.

KIBO

Grade band: Pre-K – 2
Using literal blocks to teach students block-based coding (or rather, sequencing skills), KIBO is a great introduction for students in Early Childhood education. It has everything — tangible blocks that students place in an order for coding, fun add-ons to build onto your KIBO robot, and plenty of opportunities for students to test out their code by scanning the blocks and then having the KIBO execute the code. The units within their curriculum were specifically designed with pre-K to 2nd grade students in mind and cover a wide range of topics and skill sets. You can find out more about their curriculum here.

Ozobot

Pre-K – 2
Ozobot takes sequencing a step further by having students draw out their code in colors as part of a storytelling exercise. In what I like to call “color-coding,” students teach their Evo robot to move or react to specific parts of their task. They do this by drawing out a specific pattern of colors to get the Evo to stop, turn, move backward, shake, etc. As students create their color-coding, they add story elements to the side to explain their code (effectively learning to comment out their code!). Even better, Ozobot created a great fully-formed curriculum for teaching these skills over time. The curriculum comes in the box with the robots, but you can check out some sample lessons here. While I would recommend it for K-2 if you are building out a K-12 STEAM/STEM program for your school or district, Ozobot is also very appropriate for Grade 3-5 or 6-8 learners, and there is curriculum for those age groups as well.

Wonder Workshop’s Dash and Dot

Grade 3 – 5
Great for levels K-5, Wonder Workshop has an amazing free curriculum that comes with their Dash and Dot robots. The scope and sequence are very clearly laid out, and the skills taught in each grade level make a lot of sense as they progress. You can take a peek at the curriculum here. They also have a wonderful library of projects that take everything a step further and incorporate multiple class periods and previous skills into an overarching project that allows for further student agency. Some of the projects are premium, paid subscription content, but a lot of them are free, fantastic, and cover all manner of content areas.

Scratch’s Creative Computing Curriculum

Grade 3 – 5
If you are looking to get your students into block-based coding, right now the most common way is through Scratch! In a partnership with Creative Computing Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Education, there is a fantastic curriculum for Scratch called: Creative Computing Curriculum. Within the teacher downloads, you will find student log workbooks, activities to introduce coding and blocks (“10 Blocks” is an absolutely stellar starting activity), and fleshed out lessons for students to begin in any subject area with Scratch. As an added bonus, you can even pair many of these activities with a Makey Makey extension for an immediate, immersive experience in your STEAM/STEM classroom.

CS First

Grade 6 – 8
Marketed initially as a straight-out-the-box curriculum for computer science clubs, CS First is making huge strides in their lessons and how you can use them in your regular subject area classroom, or your STEAM/STEM classroom. They created lessons that focus on the CS skills first (and are aligned to the CSTA Standards), but there are also subject area standards embedded into the heart of each lesson. This is great for a teacher who wants to try a few lessons while still hitting the skill or standard they need to teach in their regular classroom. Even better, for teachers that are new to coding, they have fantastic video explanations for students, and code solutions for teachers, in their lesson plans!

micro:bit

Grade 6 – 8
The cream-of-the-crop for middle school coding curriculum has to be micro:bit. They have the ability for students to use the Microsoft MakeCode editor to code in block-based coding or in JavaScript, which makes it a great tool for teachers looking to transition their students from block-based coding to their first programming language. Furthermore, they have a few different curriculums to offer, but one was built with the New York City Department of Education CS For All team last year: CS For All Introduction to Physical Computing with micro:bit. It has lessons, activities, student worksheets, and guides to help teachers implement the micro:bit easily in their classrooms.

Labdisc

Grade 6 – 8
If you are looking to run science experiments in your classroom, look no further than Labdisc. They have a great set of lessons, each tailored to a specific type of Labdisc you might have in your classroom. They include a number of traditional lessons I remember as a student (like using pH to check the acidity of beverages) as well as a few more creative lessons. All of the lessons come aligned to the NGSS standards, and have fantastic guides, context, examples, and student activities included.

Grasshopper

Grade 9 – 12
For the student that wants to learn JavaScript, Grasshopper is a fantastic app that provides a great introduction for students and adults alike. With a friendly interface and short lessons in chunks, Grasshopper makes it easy and less intimidating to learn a programming language. They also scaffold the skills taught throughout the program so that each lesson builds from the previous skills learned to teach students in a really meaningful, unassuming way.

Python MC & EarSketch

Grade 9 – 12
Python MC & EarSketch have figured out how to make learning Python fun and engaging (not that it isn’t already). They added music! In this curriculum, students are exposed to all the initial, important concepts when learning Python, but through the context of DJing with music. They lay down their tracks, they layer in their effects, but they cannot simply do it like they might in a regular music recording tool — they have to use code! If they get their code correct and understand their concepts, the music will be placed in the right spot, with the right effects. It brings coding to a whole new level.

Labdisc

Grade 9 – 12
Also appropriate for high school, as you can see above, Labdisc provides much of the necessary data logging you would need to complete in a science lab, all in one device. Specifically for high school, you would want to be sure to pick the right Labdisc to incorporate into your existing lessons and classrooms:

  • GenSci (for General Science)
  • Enviro (for Environmental Science)
  • BioChem (for Biology or Chemistry or both)
  • Physio (for Physics)

Remember, these are not the be-all, end-all answers for a STEAM/STEM classroom, but they sure are great places to start for ideas, inspiration, and even initial implementation! If you ever have any questions around these top STEAM/STEM curriculums, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Teq! We have a wealth of experience and knowledge implementing STEAM/STEM in schools and are happy to help.

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