STEM Activities for Special Education Students

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning should be an inclusive part of every student’s education regardless of circumstances. It is imperative each student be given access to a quality education to build their STEM literacy and prepare themselves for a successful future. This need for inclusivity in STEM extends to all students, including those with special needs. There are STEM curricula for special education students that tailor learning to the unique needs of the group, encouraging curiosity and engagement in STEM.

In this article, you will learn about how to create STEM activities for special education students to ensure success. 

Adapting STEM Activities for Diverse Learning Needs

Special education students often have diverse learning needs that differ from those of other students. When creating a successful STEM activity for these students, it is beneficial to look at adapting the lesson to meet those needs, which will lead to increased student success. 


Here are three (3) ways to implement STEM activities that will help special needs students stay engaged in lessons:

  • Use of Visual Supports: Incorporating pictures, diagrams, and videos to help students understand concepts.
  • Tactile Learning Materials: Using textured materials, building blocks, and beads to make abstract concepts more concrete.
  • Multisensory Approaches: Combining visual, auditory, and tactile inputs to engage students regardless of their learning styles.

Fun and Simple STEM Activities

It is a common misconception that STEM activities are expensive and difficult to implement. There are a variety of STEM activities easy to implement with common household items, making it the perfect learning experience for the classroom, at home, in after-school programs, or in summer camps. 

Below is a list of fun and simple STEM activities for special education students:

  • Sensory Bottles: Students will create sensory bottles to explore concepts like density and buoyancy.
  • Simple Circuits: In this lesson, students will use battery packs, wires, and light bulbs to build basic circuits and understand electricity.
  • Balloon Rockets: Through building balloon-powered rockets, students learn key physics by observing their rocket’s motion.

Integrating STEM with Everyday Activities

It is proven that connecting classroom concepts to real-world situations helps students see the importance of what they are learning and leads to higher comprehension and retention levels. There are ways to connect STEM to everyday life. This is a powerful tool for parents and educators to introduce STEM concepts organically in an exciting way. 

Here are some inspirational ideas for how to connect STEM learning to the world around us.

  • Cooking and Chemistry: Using cooking activities to teach measurements, chemical reactions, and nutrition.
  • Gardening and Biology: Exploring plant life cycles and ecosystems through long-term classroom or at-home gardening projects.
  • Building and Engineering: Using building blocks, popsicle sticks, and recyclable materials to create structures and explore engineering principles.

Using Technology to Enhance STEM Learning

Technology literacy is key to success in everyday life. This point is becoming increasingly true and technology continues to advance and integrate with daily tasks both at home and in the workplace. As parents and educators, it is key that STEM lessons use technology, allowing students hands-on opportunities to familiarize themselves with the devices. 

Here are ideas for how to incorporate technology in STEM lessons with special education students:

  • Interactive Learning Apps: There are a variety of apps designed for special education students. Many of these apps are focused on teaching STEM concepts in effective, engaging ways.
  • Assistive Technology: There are ways to incorporate tools like speech-to-text software and interactive whiteboards in ways that increase the speed and effectiveness of lessons. Not only does this make learning more efficient, but it also introduces students to current, innovative technology.
  • Virtual Field Trips: It is not always easy or possible to take students on field trips. Through virtual reality, students can go on immersive STEM-related field trips to the destination of their choice.

Empowering All Students Through STEM

Creating inclusive STEM learning environments is imperative for the future success of all students as they move throughout their education and enter society. As parents and educators, it is our responsibility to provide students with the tools they need to succeed, even if it means altering our educational approach. 

Some special education students require a slightly different learning approach and environment than their classmates. By pivoting the approach to the lesson, students can have a positive experience with STEM learning, leading to a lifelong love for STEM and learning. 

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