The 5E Instructional Model

The 5E Model is a inquiry-based instructional method where students are active participants throughout the learning process. The 5 E’s stand for:

  • Engage
  • Explore 
  • Explain 
  • Elaborate 
  • Evaluate 

At STEM Sports®, we see the 5E instructional model as the 6E instructional model. Rather than ending with evaluation, we believe it is important to instill a purpose and motivation by integrating the sixth E of “Extend”. This provides students the opportunity to challenge themselves, and, a window into the next grade level.

Throughout our STEM Sport’s® lessons, students will move through each of these five E’s, ending with evaluating what they have done, achieved and realized regarding the lessons concept and objective. This model allows for a deeper comprehension of the lesson because students are engaged in the learning process from start-to-finish, rather than being “front-loaded” with information. 

This “front-loading” style of learning can be overwhelming to students, and even lower their retention rate of the curriculum’s content. By using an inquiry-based method of learning, students have the opportunity to participate in teacher-led modules, as well as the freedom of hands-on application in each lesson. This proactive approach teaches 21st century skills, presenting a deeper understanding of the lesson’s key concepts.     


Engage is the first of five phases in the educational model. It is a segment that often begins with a question or two to effectively measure a student’s prior knowledge of concepts and/or gaps in comprehension. In general, it allows both teacher and student to mentally prepare for the lesson. 

This is the portion where a pre-assessment would take place. Pre-assessments are a great way for teachers to track student improvement and the effectiveness of their lesson plans.Our assessments are available on-line to create ease for teachers, whether students are in the classroom or receiving their education virtually or remotely.


During the explore stage, students have the opportunity to interact with the concepts they are learning. They can use the Engineering Design Process (EDP), Scientific Method or active learning methods during this time to better understand the material. It may also be beneficial to work with their peers during this time, because group communication is often a great way for students to grasp difficult topics.


Teachers use this time to lead the lesson and answer questions students have accumulated throughout the explore phase. The 5E Instructional Model: A Learning Cycle Approach for Inquiry-Based Science Teaching by Lena and Emilio Duran says that teachers should ask students what they learned prior to engaging in more formal teaching methods. This gives students experience articulating themselves, a valuable skill in their life and future careers.


Once the explain segment has concluded, the elaboration period will provide students the chance to continue applying what they have learned. By giving them this time, students are able to develop a deeper understanding of the curriculum, which will lead to increased retention. 

Lesley University’s article about the 5E Model suggests teachers have students create presentations or participate in additional activities that will further reinforce new skills. This is similar to the “capstone project” for grades 6th – 8th in our STEM Sports® curricula that students complete at the conclusion of all modules.   


Evaluate is the fifth and final step of the 5E Model. During this time, students partake in post-assessments that can be compared to their pre-assessments to see how much their knowledge on the topic has improved.  Aside from formal assessments, this is a good time for students to verbalize what they have learned with both their peers and teacher. By doing so, they have the opportunity to demonstrate his/her growth on the topic and, through talking with others, even expand their knowledge. 


At STEM Sports®, we value the opportunity to challenge students, which is the primary reason we introduced a “sixth E”, extend. The extend portion essentially takes the lesson to the next level because we want students to feel confident and well prepared for the next grade level. Of course, we like to give students the opportunity to gain a little ‘extra credit’ for their hard work at the end of each module.

How we use it:

STEM Sports® uses the 5E Model throughout all of our STEM curricula. The 5E Model is largely based around the use of active learning, which is a focal point of our modules since we use sports as a way to facilitate each lesson. 

Each STEM Sports® kit includes pre-and-post assessments and worksheets, which is an important part of the engage and evaluate stages. There is also a portion that is “student-led”. During this time, with educators there for students if needed, children are able to actively participate in the lesson in order to better understand STEM concepts through the use of sports; this is the exploration phase. 

For the elaborate phase, teachers are given the opportunity to help students answer any questions they may have about what they are learning. With the help of our curricula, students and teachers are able to work together to understand the lesson and how it connects to sports. For our grade 6-8 students, they are given a capstone project where they can further expand their knowledge and showcase everything they learned from the modules. 

The 5E Model has a strong focus on continued engagement throughout the whole lesson. In each of the five phases of the model, students learn a variety of skills that will be valuable to them in their future, such as: problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. The model leaves students with a more positive learning experience which, in turn, creates lifelong learners who want to continue their STEM education!  
The implementation of the 5E Model, or 6E Model as we commonly refer to it, is a process that may be daunting to some educators in the beginning. However, once implemented, the 5E/6E instructional model allows educators to teach their students without the need for professional development or training. There are resources available to equip teachers with the tools and information they need to construct quality lessons using the 5E instructional model. This will be helpful in being able to use STEM Sports® as a supplement in a curriculum map or school-year curriculum.

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