By Priscilla Robinson
The performance components in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have spawned so many wonderful opportunities to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the classroom. The STEM curriculum is based on the idea of educating students in these four specific disciplines via an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Students exploring and searching for solutions to real-world problems give rise to classroom excitement and authentic learning.
I admit that in my early years of teaching science, 70% of my lessons and even labs were of the traditional delivery model, utilizing a mirroring process. The other 30% of instruction was dynamic delivery, “off the grid” from my district-provided curriculum.
In those situations, students worked in teams to engage with hands-on materials, content, and real-world scenarios. My role was to coach, redirect, and monitor their progress. The change in the students’ mindset, behavior in the lab, and their higher level of understanding told my heart that dynamic delivery was the path I wanted to travel.
Back then—as now—Educational Innovations was my “go-to” catalog for purchase of simple science toys like the Dropper Popper. Today, they continue to be on the cutting edge of new products that support STEM and NGSS. I’ve recently had a chance to examine two kits that I believe would be wonderful additions to any classroom.
Introducing the OneCar
The OneCar is a comprehensive, open-ended STEM system that allows students of all ages to explore energy and motion with open-ended investigations and discoveries. Every OneCar Kit includes eight OneCars and a full-color set of instructions. Each car has a low-friction car chassis, four wheels, and ample components that can be assembled and de-constructed for multiple uses. Repositionable Velcro tabs make it easy to attach components to the vehicle.
Students can design, build, test, and propel their cars in six different modes. Further, they can experiment with other methods of powering their cars, such as using rubber band elastics, wind, or even a mousetrap. The only limits are their creativity and curiosity!
They can build cars that run on energy harnessed from:
an electric motor
Scroll down to view videos about many of the OneCar options.
NGSS Standards and Lesson Ideas!
When I reviewed the OneCar system, I found it to be very useful in the teaching of 21 separate NGSS standards—11 for engineering and 10 for physical science. This tremendous integration of science and engineering streamlines instructions and maximizes instructional minutes for the teacher. Utilizing the other energy components of the OneCar extends this apparatus with yet another 15 standards. It’s definitely a valuable asset to my arsenal of teaching tools to joyful learning and engagement.
Click here to review the NGSS standards related to this exciting product as well as an array of lesson ideas. Enjoy!
The Articulating Stomp Rocket
The Articulating Stomp Rocket is another fantastic EI product that was invented by Paul Reyna, a middle school science teacher in search of engaging, fun, and authentic learning for his students. You can read his blog, “Having a Blast with Articulating Stomp Rockets” here. Students are able to master Newton’s Laws of Motion in an assortment of dynamic lessons.
The kit comes with everything you need take to Force & Motion out of this world. You provide the plastic bottle, glue and paper. Templates, data charts, instructions and many online resources are included. Students create rockets out of a single piece of paper and are able to launch them.
What separates this product from other rocket launchers is that it articulates and allows for a change in the angle of flight. The STEM opportunities for students to investigate are unlimited.
When the Next Generation Science Standards were released, it was a tremendous relief and validation of my philosophy of facilitating science instruction. The three-dimensional learning framework (Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science & Engineering Practices) supports the performance expectations that students are expected to master with NGSS. Now STEM has a framework which school districts can access to encourage a generation of students to think and act as scientists.
I challenge you, as a teacher, to reflect on your teaching model. How many of your instructional minutes are “traditional,” and how many reflect a “NGSS/STEM” approach? Even if your district isn’t officially following the NGSS standards, I would encourage you to make the honest effort, one lesson at a time, to focus on depth of skill over breadth of facts. I’m confident you’ll be impressed by the results.
Watch the OneCar in action!