STEM Resources

Five Steps to Inspire Classroom Curiosity in STEM

USA Today Article Resources: Below, please find a copy of an article submitted for publication, including a wide variety of links that could not be included in the published article due to space.

Ready to inspire classroom innovation in a STEM world? Create experiences that that make applying STEM skills to real life problem-solving, ordinary.

"Learn Python coding," said my daughter's college professor. She struggled to learn. Did you know that Python coding is offered in middle school? Now, I ask "What if I had known?" Looking back, I'd take a few different steps as a parent and educator.

Step #1 – Nurture Problem-Designers and Solvers

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) helps students develop team-building in solving real life, authentic problems. Problems must be authentic engineering challenges connected to current life issues for students. They must be do-able and adopt an engineering design process. Working with robots at a young age supports this. See examples: iPotty, Oil pipleline fixer, Drunk/District Driving Restrictor.

Step #2 – Create Global Collaborators

Encourage students to parallel-problem solve with global partner schools. Use tools like Skype, Google Hangouts,, Twitter to bridge the global divide. Engage in multi-language dialogue with apps like Google/Microsoft Translate.

Step #3 – Inspire Virtual Architects

Use solutions like Minecraft: Education Edition as a virtual engineering space. That's what NASA does. Empower students to re-design physical spaces online. Start as an urban planner, like the young women in Block by Block's video. Learners can graduate to space virtual engineers. Each exercise assists them learning computational thinking.

Step #4 - Construct Coders

Start with solutions like, a free block coding language. Learners can use it to control the world around them. MakeCode makes programmable mini-machines (e.g. Micro:bit a la IoT) possible. Students use MakeCode to create coding agents.

What's more, free curriculum resources are available. Also, be sure to read these blog entries.

Step #5 - Cultivate a Maker's Attitude

We need to cultivate in learners "a maker’s attitude." Makers blend high-tech with hand-made crafts. They explore many paths toward problem-solving. Makers embrace growing out of failure. It means understanding concepts in deep way.

Ready to inspire? Take the first step.

STEM Resources

Padlet of STEM Awesomeness

Looking for STEM activities and apps? Check out this Padlet chock-full of content. You can explore and adapt these for your own use.

Find a list of iOS/Android apps, websites, Chrome browser apps/extensions. and Pinterest sites featuring STEM activities.

STEM Tools and Toys

These toys and tools present various approaches. Often, parents and teachers are looking for “turnkey” solutions or kits. There are many kits that can be used in a home or classroom setting. Here are my top three favorite tools and/or toys, along with links to websites where you can find more ideas. What would you add or include that I haven’t?

  • Sunprint ($11.59): “The SunPrint Solar Paper lets you makes beautiful pictures by placing objects on the paper and exposing it to the sun. The paper undergoes a chemical change. The Sunprint paper can be used for a creative, solar art project,” says the Amazon description.
  • Cubetto ($222.95): TCEA’s Ashley Weiler introduced me to Cubetto. Montessori-approved, this is a “coding toy for girls and boys ages 3 and up. Children help Cubetto, a friendly wooden robot, navigate a magical world by writing their first programs using hands-on coding blocks.”
  • Tynker app + Parrot Mambo Minidrone ($): Learning to code with algorithms (sets of instructions that are repeated to automate and simplify coding) is fun with the Tynker app (Android/iOS) and the Mambo drone.

STEM Coder: Future Ready Learning

The importance of becoming a STEM coder cannot be overstated. This blog entry will give you handy stats and provide some simple steps you can take.

It also explores the rationale and importance of beginning with STEM early on.

Project-Based Learning (PBL) in STEM

Check out the solo cups activity, taught to me by Peggy Reimers (@preimers).

STEM Do It Yourself Projects Ideas

“Where did you get your idea for that project?” I asked a second grade teacher who was sharing a STEM project at a San Angelo, Tx TCEA area conference. “Pinterest!” she replied with a smile. “I find most of my ideas there.” To be honest, it had never occurred to me to look on Pinterest.

Yet you can find many DIY STEM projects appropriate for home or classroom there. Here are my top five favorite Pinterest boards:

Maker Magic

Ready to get started with Maker Magic? Here are some resources that will help you get going with maker-related topics.

Are You a Maker?

Of course, you are! What does it take to setup a space for making? Let's explore via this photo tour, as well as check out the resources shared below. Be sure to check back often, as this resource will be updated periodically.