How Project-Based Learning Enhances STEM Education

Tom White Author of How Project-Based Learning Enhances STEM Education

Author: Tom White

 

One of the many benefits of STEM education is the integration and application of cross-curricular content. This allows students to understand the relationship of the subjects they study. To be effective, a STEM program needs to be fully integrated. The best way demonstrated so far is with a comprehensive project-based curriculum. This helps students answer the questions “Why do I need to know this?” and “Where will I ever use this?”

Benefits of Project-Based Learning

Project-based curriculum allows for deep exploration of a problem. The project should be designed to allow different student groups to develop several distinct solutions to the same problem. The problem presents the student with an opportunity to plan, organize and conduct research. Enabling activities help to provide students with needed skills and knowledge “just in time”. Students utilize their research in the design, protyping, testing, evaluation, and redesign of a solution.

fischertechnik Middle School STEM Lab - Energy, Power and Robotics

The term engineering implies a mathematical evaluation of a design. This analysis allows students to create mathematical models that can inform decisions and increase the speed at which a solution can be put forth. Next, a prototype can be created and evaluated. The data is gathered and organized. Flaws are further analyzed and the design improved. Once an acceptable design solution is reached, students create final documentation. This documentation includes sketches, drawings, notes, research reports, data analysis and anything else utilized in the creation of the final design. Students craft explanatory or argumentative writing to explain the merits of their solutions. The writing is glue for the integration of the learning. Explaining the solution takes the learning to higher levels.

The Importance of Complying with Standards

True project-based curriculum needs to be standards-based, utilizing several standard sets. Common Core Science Standards will be in place this year as a companion to the existing Common Core Math Standards. There is a temptation to ignore the Literacy Standards as they do not appear in the STEM designation. They are as important as the Common Core Math Standards. Reading and Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects prepare students for further education and entering into employment.

A major barrier to successful preparation for careers in STEM fields is the need for remediation before true college work can begin. Project-based STEM education provides students with the preparation necessary for successful entry into college programs. Studies have shown college students who have participated in STEM programs in high school earn higher GPAs, have better retention and are better prepared for the rigors of college study.

STEM Curriculum Solutions

The fischertechnik STEM Lab Program offers an ideal integration of project-based learning and standards-based curriculum.

Created to promote inquiry, design and problem solving, this program was especially developed for use with the fischertechnik construction system. By combining curriculum with hands-on exploration and creation, this program offers an effective turn-key or customizable solution for STEM Education.

Each level – Middle School and High School – consists of various theme projects which enable students to explore and understand essential Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics concept areas.

“I’ve purposefully created this fischertechnik STEM Lab Program to meet Common Core Standards for Math, Reading and Writing as well as the National Science Education Standards, and standards of ISTE, ITEEA."

This program can easily fill six months of class time and engage students in the study of applied physics with a systems approach to electronics, control and sensing.”
— Tom White, Program Creator

 

Learn More

Tom White has been involved in STEM programs since the 1970’s designing programs for educational institutions and industry. Specializing in hardware and software integration, Tom was pivotal in introducing CAD, CAM, control systems, digital control, additive manufacturing and other topics.

Get more information about this program and upcoming webinar dates discussing the fischertechnik STEM Lab. Call 888-561-7521 or email STEMLab@studica.com

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