Table of Contents
- What is a STEM Curriculum?
- How to Integrate a STEM Curriculum Into the Classroom
- Benefits of a STEM Curriculum in Elementary School
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about STEM Curriculum
- More about STEM with STEM Sports®
Elementary school is an important and formative time in a child’s education. During this time, educators provide grade K-6 students with the core learnings necessary to progress through their education. For example, students are introduced to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). By giving students the confidence and foundational understanding of STEM lessons early in their education, teachers are preparing students for the remainder of their education and their future careers.
In this article, STEM Sports® explains the benefits of STEM curriculum and how it can be implemented at the elementary level.
What is a STEM Curriculum?
A STEM curriculum is any lesson that introduces students to science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics concepts. This can be done individually or through a cross-curricular method, such as combining a sports and mathematics lesson.
What Makes it an Elementary STEM Lesson?
A STEM curriculum is often stands-aligned to help educators and facilitatorsto navigate in their classroom. When creating or purchasing a STEM lesson for elementary school, be sure to check if the lesson is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and K-12 Physical Education Standards. By ensuring lessons are standards aligned, educators are better preparing students for standardized tests and the coming school year.
How to Integrate a STEM Curriculum Into the Classroom
For educators, it can be difficult to decide what STEM curriculum you want to facilitate with your students and how you want to add it into the current lesson plan. Regardless of if you are making your own STEM lesson or purchasing a curriculum, there are certain things you need to look for in a successful STEM lesson plan. Below is a list of questions to review when vetting a STEM curriculum for elementary school:
- Does it cover science, technology, engineering, or mathematics? Is it a combination of the two?
- Is this curriculum in combination with another core school subject (english, history, etc)?
- Is this a primary curriculum or supplemental curriculum?
- Is this a long term or short term curriculum?
- What materials are needed to implement this curriculum?
- Does it come with pre and post assessments? Is it something that I will need to create?
- Is the curriculum hands-on?
- Does the curriculum connect to real world examples and/or jobs in the workforce?
- Are the lessons aligned with NGSS, CCSS, and K-12 Physical Education Standards?
Benefits of a STEM Curriculum in Elementary School
There are countless benefits to students who consistently interact with a STEM curriculum. These benefits are especially important for elementary school students creating habits and preferences that will continue throughout their education.
Below is a list of benefits of implementing a STEM curriculum with elementary school students.
Setting Students up for Academic Success
Implementing STEM during early childhood education gives students the opportunity to practice their spatial awareness, problem solving, technological literacy, and critical thinking skills. All of these skills will benefit students as they progress through their education. By giving children the opportunity to perfect these skills early on, educators are setting students up for success in the classroom and in future job interviews.
Setting Students up for Future Career Success
STEM jobs are rising faster than any other career field. Compoundingly, people with STEM-based degrees are making more money on average than those with non-STEM degrees and careers.
What does this mean for educators, parents, and students? It means we need to focus on improving students’ STEM literacy and prepare them to fill STEM jobs in the future. By starting STEM education at the primary school level, we are instilling confidence, creating a strong foundation, and introducing students to interesting STEM concepts that they can continue to learn about in the future.
Gives Students Education Application Experience
Elementary STEM education is often hands-on, allowing students to interact with the curriculum on a deeper level. The hands-on learning method allows students to apply what they are learning to the world around them. The ability to apply concepts outside of the classroom shows a higher level of curricula comprehension and benefits students as they progress through their education. By students exercising this skill early in their education, we are setting them up to have increased retention and comprehension of future lessons, which will lead to higher scores on tests and state exams!
Fosters 21st Century Skills
21st century skills are core competencies considered valuable and essential both personally and professionally. These skills include communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving. For some, these skills will take effort and practice. STEM lessons naturally incorporate these skills. By introducing the STEM curriculum into elementary school, students can begin working on their 21st century skills early, which will lead to improved skills as they enter high school, college, and future careers.
Gives Students Confidence in STEM
By introducing STEM early in education, students will gain confidence in their abilities. This confidence will help students feel empowered to continue taking STEM courses throughout their education.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about STEM Curriculum
Below are a few frequently asked questions about STEM education at the elementary school level.
What is STEM in Elementary Education?
STEM in elementary education can take on many forms. It can be implemented in the classroom or during physical education courses. Regardless of how it is facilitated or where, a STEM curriculum is anything that helps students improve their understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math.
What is an Elementary School Curriculum?
An Elementary school curriculum introduces students to the key educational areas – english, history mathematics, science, physical education, and art. The combination of these core concepts represent an educators’ year-long curriculum plan.
When Should I Start Teaching STEM to My Child?
It is never too early to start introducing children to STEM. If you are interested in purchasing STEM games or toys for your child, read 17 STEM Games and Toys for Kids Ages 2-9.