When you first decide to introduce a new STEM program into your classroom, it can be hard to know where to start. Do you focus on one subject area, or do you bring in multiple areas of interest? How do you know your students are going to be engaged with the new curriculum? How can you bring them to the doorstep of discovery?
For a lot of educators, the search for a new STEM topic starts with an assessment of student interests. From understanding what your learners pursue outside of the classroom to finding the best way to incorporate those interests into a curriculum, it’s no easy feat to bring in something brand new — which is where we saw an opportunity as education specialists.
When we were asked, “How do I introduce STEM to my classroom?” we put our heads together and designed a package that incorporates relevant topics with all the facets of STEM, allowing learners to discover their own interests by participating in hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities. We call it Discover STEM LAB.
What Is Discover STEM LAB?
Almost like a ready-to-go makerspace, Discover STEM LAB is a self-contained curriculum package boasting four complete units of STEM. With two different sets for grades 3-4 and 5-6, each D-STEM package holds enough content for up to 24 students and over 100 contact hours. Discover STEM LAB aims to inspire upcoming generations to pursue careers in STEM by giving them a better understanding of what STEM education entails. Using modern technology and subjects students are actually interested in, D-STEM instills real-life skills and brings learning to life through approachable, application-based activities.
When students pick up a D-STEM lesson, there is no strict, instructor-dependent path to follow. Designed with flexibility and adaptability in mind, learners get to choose their own adventure, developing the skills they need to build and create within a space where they are actively interested. In this structure, the educator in the room is a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on a stage.” The learners are leaders, challenging their abilities, choosing their activities and conquering their obstacles with a facilitator available to help if they get stuck or need some assistance. This process of learning through experimentation helps students develop 21st-century skills which shine long after the technical skills they have acquired become out-of-date.
Lessons begin with guided instructions. These beginner stages help students develop and practice the skills needed to complete later activities. As they gain confidence with the concepts, vocabulary and interfaces, learners graduate to more challenging tasks, moving into a final open-ended design challenge. This is the culmination of everything they have explored, allowing them to apply it to something new that interests them.
To learn more about everything the Discover Series has to offer, head over to the Discover How Student-Led Exploration Transforms STEM Learning Blog.
D-STEM LAB 3-4
STEM is all about cross-curricular exploration and integration, and in Discover STEM LAB 3-4, students explore the myriad of ways STEM concepts and manipulatives combine into one-of-a-kind foundational learning experiences. Each of the D-STEM modules was carefully selected for its easily-integrated, multi-subject capacity, and contains everything you need to introduce engaging topics in any learning environment. You can use each module as an individual platform, or blend them for unique learning experiences — what you do with your D-STEM is customizable to your students’ needs. Just like a makerspace, let curiosity lead your learners and see where the unique STEM lessons take you.
Discover STEM LAB 3-4 contains:
Science: BrickLAB Zoology
In BrickLAB Zoology, 12 student-driven lessons combine manipulative-based learning for a deep dive into the science of animals. Utilizing PCS Edventures building bricks, BrickLAB Zoology is full of hands-on lessons in animal adaptation, biological innovations and everything you need to send students down the science rabbit hole. Challenging learners to examine innovations in the animal kingdom, BrickLAB Zoology creates a connection between the human and animal world, allowing learners to uncover precisely how our very different species are intertwined.
Technology: Digital Video LAB
Digital Video LAB’s fresh-take on film focuses the camera on learners as they star in their own multimedia productions. Flip the switch with teamwork-based curriculum and survey digital documentaries, historical recreations, original films and more! With a simple startup and step-by-step activities, this series allows for an easy introduction to challenging and creative video production skills in any learning environment.
Engineering: Discover Cubelets
Discover Cubelets powers student exploration through engineering and foundational robotic programming. Cubelets are a brick-compatible system of robot blocks that sense, think and act. Bundled with PCS Edventures standard-aligned curriculum, these bricks are endless sources of programming and coding fun. As boundless bundles of creativity, get ready to sprout robotic and computational thinking skills with Discover Cubelets!
Math: Discover Digits & Design
The Discover Digits & Design curriculum includes 12 student activities, divided into four groups based on fun and engaging math manipulatives. Each activity emphasizes specific math principles and grade level appropriate math standards, and is structured so learners move upward through Bloom’s Taxonomy as they gain experience and understanding of the math concepts involved. Student curriculum pages are designed for independent exploration in a learner-driven environment.
D-STEM LAB 5-6
The ultimate enrichment tool for grades 5-6, the Discover STEM Lab 5-6 can be easily integrated into after-school programs, classrooms and any other learning environment. This curriculum was designed to be specifically useful for late elementary students as they begin to transition to more difficult subjects in middle school. Each module encourages independent student exploration by offering educational and entertaining STEM challenges to get students excited about learning!
Discover STEM LAB 5-6 contains:
Science: Discover Dynamics
Explore physical phenomena like acceleration, inertia, equilibrium of forces, the principles of linear motion and the laws of motion with Discover Dynamics: Physics 1. Combining hands-on experiments with easy-to-follow curriculum, this kit allows students to discover the secrets of centrifugal force, gravity, acceleration and the conservation of energy all while engaging in a welcoming, student-driven environment. From building their own STEM identities to engaging with foundational concepts, Discover Dynamics encourages independent student exploration to get students excited about learning!
Technology: Discover Robotics & Programming
By combining a game-like programming interface and real mechanical robotic components, Discover Robotics & Programming is one of the most versatile and useful teaching tools of today. Projects focus on the integration of STEAM skills by incorporating math, physics and engineering principles. Each project is followed by an optional journaling component to fuse language arts and reflection, responding to extensive research that illustrates the benefits of reflective elements in STEM classrooms.
Engineering: Discover Engineering
In Discover Engineering, get ready to cultivate the young engineers of tomorrow. Geared to bolster student literacy with rapidly evolving technology, this kit combines the latest research-based methods to get learners excited about STEM by modeling real-world building mechanisms which introduces learners to a new set of engineering principles and construction vocabulary. Through the basic concepts of engineering, the activities in Discover Engineering foster student confidence, critical-thinking and other important 21st-century skills.
Math: Discover Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is an important source of power today and will become even more critical in the future. The Discover Renewable Energy: Solar Beginner set is perfectly designed to help students understand the possibilities of solar energy. As learners build solar-powered boats and cars which generate electricity using a solar module, this kit combines ethics and STEM for modern learning and discovery of the possibilities of renewable energy.
Boost Student Interest with Relevant Topics
As society continues to move towards an increasingly technology-dominated lifestyle, STEM learning is the gateway to future careers — and we know our youngest learners’ first introductions to engineering and technology concepts need to be fun, interactive and centered around the things they are interested in. By creating hands-on, relevant lessons and activities, not only are we setting students up for future STEM success, but we’re creating active, forward-thinking members of our communities. Which is why with the most recent 2019 updates to D-STEM 3-4 and 5-6, we integrated new topics like Discover Renewable Energy, two brand-new units aimed at encouraging students to participate in global movements.
Renewable energy is a core issue across the globe, affecting jobs, homes, food and climate change. Without energy, the world couldn’t function, and in our current position, there has never been a greater need for renewable, affordable energy. This isn’t an issue we can solve tomorrow — most figures say we’re still 20 years away from large programs — meaning that by the time the clean energy vehicle is in overdrive, it will be today’s youngest learners at the wheel.
This is precisely why D-STEM 5-6 keys in on renewable energy. “Renewable energy is an important source of power today, and will become even more important in the future. This educational construction set is perfectly designed to help students understand the possibilities of solar energy. They can make solar-powered boats and cars run by generating electricity from the sun using a solar module. Solar Beginner can be used in supervised and unsupervised learning, and is one of the most popular sets in many schools” (fischertechnik).
By encouraging learners to interact with relevant topics through approachable, hands-on activities, you’re aiding in the building of a better world.
The Discover Series also helps prepare students for a technology-filled future with its one-of-a-kind drone curriculum. From engaging learners in the science of flight with unmanned aerial vehicles to having them participate in a humanitarian observation of how drones can be used for good across the world, Discover Drones is the high-flying tool your classroom needs to get learners excited about STEM. Click here to learn more about all of our Drone Products.
If you’d like to learn more about D-STEM or the other products in the Discover Series, check out the Discover: The World of Robotics, Physics and Engineering Webinar where our experienced hosts lead you on a deep dive into all things STEM.
“The Discover Series allows students in grades 1-12 to get their hands on today’s relevant technologies, approaching modern topics through hands-on, self-guided exploration. Promoting an atmosphere of creativity and innovation through exciting lessons in robotics, programming, physics, engineering, drones and video production, students explore topics they are actively interested in, all the while developing soft skills including communication, critical thinking and persistence.”
For direct assistance on bringing cutting-edge STEM to your learners, contact a STEM Program Specialist at (800) 429-3110 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.