What makes a great STEM lesson?
STEM learning is so much more than the simple acquisition of knowledge in the fields Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In fact, the very best STEM instruction utilizes skills and knowledge across non-STEM disciplines, such as writing, practical application, and industrial and career awareness.
In general, effective STEM instruction can include:
- Teachers who develop solid STEM-related content knowledge
- Hands-on problem‐solving activities that have real-world relevance
- Integration of STEM into non-STEM subjects, especially art and design
- Use of industry-standard software, tools, and procedures such as the engineering design cycle
- Increased awareness of STEM fields and occupations, especially among underrepresented populations
- Enthusiasm about further STEM-related learning
- Connections between in-school and out-of-school learning opportunities
- Industry and higher‐ed partnerships that encourage hands-on student exploration of STEM-related careers
Hands-on STEM: Investigating Insulation Efficiency
One example of an effective STEM lesson is the investigation of insulation efficiency. This high-school-level lesson tasks students with building an efficient insulated container for a can of hot water, and then calculating the rate of heat loss.
Beyond the instruction of transfer of heat energy, this lesson is particularly effective in providing a hands-on activity with real-world relevance. In this case, students can apply the significance of their findings to the construction of energy-efficient buildings. And since students build their own device, they determine their own difficulty level by how complex their device is.
This lesson addresses the following standard:
- Investigate the transfer of heat energy by conduction, convection, and radiation.
Download the lesson plan—and see it in action
This week’s content on Edivate includes the lesson plan for investigating insulation efficiency. The download also includes links to content-related resources. In addition, you can watch the accompanying video to see the lesson in action. You’ll see the teacher instruct her pre-engineering students as they build an efficient insulated container for a can of hot water and calculate the rate of heat loss.