STEM vs STEAM: Why the “A” Matters


By Tina Brown

We first heard the term “STEM” several years ago.  In May of 2013, the National Science and Technology Council introduced their five-year strategic plan.  It was a 127-page report on how to strengthen American schools’ science, technology, engineering, and math education programs.

Essentially, the goal of this plan was to produce children who would eventually be competitive in an international job market. However, within a few years of the STEM hype, educators realized there was something missing.

The Missing Element in STEM

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The Power of Electricity, Magnetism… and Infomercials!


Educational Innovations BlogBy Cathy Byrne

Virtually all fourth grade students explore electricity and magnetism.  As part of this unit, students are asked to do two things:

1 –   Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents (4-PS3-2)

2 –   Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another (4-PS3-4). 

This year, the teachers at my school put a new twist on our electricity and magnetism unit… and the results were amazing!

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Teachable Moments with the Static Snowstorm


by Priscilla Robinson

What can a teacher do when the season’s cold, wet, or snowy weather makes curious and rambunctious children go stir crazy?  This was exactly the predicament I found myself in with my five-year-old grandson last year.  After sledding and playing in the snow, Henry and I looked for something else to do.  I reached deep into my Nana brain and unlocked my inner teacher.  “What’s your teachable moment today, Nana?” I murmured.

Teachable Moments with the Static Snowstorm - Educational Innovations BlogAll weekend long, we had been experiencing the crackle and pop of static electricity as a result of the house’s warm, dry air.  Henry himself had been zapped a half dozen times.  Petting the family dog, he marveled as her hair stood on end.  He was curious:  what was this invisible power?

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Forensic Science Discussion Starters


Discussion Starters - Educational Innovations Newsletter

Introducing your students to forensic science is as easy as C-S-I!

We’ve discovered dozens of excellent resources online for topics related to many forensic careers.  Take a look at some of our favorite websites.  These ideas will get your students revved up and ready to put on their lab coats (or Sherlock Holmes hats) and start investigating the world of forensic science.

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Forensic Science Lesson


Lesson - Educational Innovations BlogWe love teaching forensic science.  It’s just plain fun!  Turn your classroom into a crime scene,  encourage your students to play detective, gather evidence, figure out whodunits… They’ll have a great time AND learn valuable science and reasoning skills at the same time.

We found many awesome free forensic science ideas on the web.  It’s impossible to list them all, but Cyberbee’s The Case of the Barefoot Burglar was one of our favorites.  Rice University’s CSI Web Adventures website is full of excellent interactive activities as well.  Check them out!

The eight-page lesson below, from DiscoveryEducation.com, is a well-crafted middle school class activity with optional extensions.  We think your students will enjoy it.

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