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Engineering Design Process - Example Project
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The Fool Proof Method
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​Career Connection
Address the "so what". Connect learning with the career of Aerospace Engineering.
Critical Thinking
Show children how to organize and analyze data while finding patterns. 
Frequently Asked Questions And Best Practices In Teaching STEM / STEAM
How can I create the best STEM / STEAM experience for my students?
Strive to make the experience fun and real. Making it fun keeps the course engaging for the children and allows to develop an intrinsic motivation towards learning. Making it real, helps children with the "so what"... why should they learn a science, technology or engineering concept, why is it relevant, where is it applied, what career pathway can that get them into... Also, keeping it real, allows you to boost the parents' confidence that their children are actually learning something of value, something that can get them into a real career. 
What are some good STEM activities?
Start by thinking about your learning objective.  If your goal is to just have a "filler" activity, you can do a simple Google search to find an activity. However, to achieve a learning goal consistently, you need a well thought out structured set of lessons. So, we recommend start with the "What"... the learning objectives and then interlace the activities to achieve that end goal while bringing in real-world career connections, applications, cross-connecting concepts along with the life skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. For more details, see "What's the WHAT Behind Your STEM Classes" video from Moni Singh's Teaching STEM series. 
Why are life skills important to be incorporated into STEM learning?
We live in a world where anything that can be automated is being automated... the use of robots and Artificial Intelligence is just beginning. Due to that trend, the life skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, resilience, problem solving are becoming even more important when businesses make hiring decisions. You see, they want to hire more for that human touch because repeatable tasks can be easily automated. Since, STEM learning is very hands-on, project-based and problem-based, it provides the right foundation to provide children relevant experiences with these life skills. With more practice, children can develop these skills early on. 
What are some ideas for STEM / STEAM topics that I can use for my elementary (primary) school and middle school students? 
STEM / STEAM is very broad.  Based on your interests, ability and your students' abilities / interests, you can do - 
* various engineering topics like mechanical, civil, aerospace, electrical, electronics, environmental, sustainability, bio-medical, or
* learning computer programming or coding. With many different languages available you have options here like Java, HTML, Python, etc. Or, for a beginner, you can pick one of the drag-and-drop type programming like or Alice. 
* a technology centric program like robotics using Lego, Vex, Sphero, etc.
* a business, communication, marketing, citizenship, social, equity or finance related theme that can take any of the above and give it a little different twist!
* an applied innovation wherein you take some of the fundamentals from the above and coach students to create and innovate. Today, communities and parents love creations involving Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet-of-Things (IoT), robots, etc. 
How can I teach computer programming to young students, preschoolers and grades K -3? 
For youngsters or anyone new to computer programming, start with drag-and-drop programming. These tools show a simple, easy to follow sequence of steps to provide instructions to a computer / technology.  

We recommend, starting with some unplugged activities to help your students experience computer programming without a computer. You can see some examples of unplugged activities here in the STEM For Kids® Youtube channel. You can coach the children the foundations of computer programming like sequencing, loops (for loops, do while loops), conditionals if-then-else, etc. in an easy way. There are many free applications and software available like, Scratch and Alice. Many children friendly robots like Lego and Sphero also come with their own versions of drag-and-drop programming. 

We do not recommend starting with coding for beginners as computer coding is syntax dependent, meaning there is a specific grammar that must be followed. Such detailed syntactical nuances can take away from grasping the foundational concepts of programming and computational thinking which are more important for the beginners. Once they understand the basics, you can take them to more advanced computer languages based on their interests. 
What are the foundational elements of coding or computer programming that I must cover in my lessons?
Whether you are using a robot or an application to teach them computer programming, the click-next type of software applications are a nice way to introduce computer programming because they provide the instant gratification of having done something. Additionally, it is important to cover the foundational pillars of computing. Our very own, STEM For Kids®' founder, Moni Singh aka Ms. STEM, also a computer science engineer, breaks it down in her teaching how to code video series. Start here to learn all the details. 
My school is adopting a STEM STEAM classroom and will have all K-6 students rotate through the STEM special. How can I keep the schedule and workload manageable? 
The best way to do this is to select a few, 2-3, themes only. Then, customize the content based on grade level.  That way, you will have similar set of materials, technology kits and less mind-shifting from one topic to the next. The instructional staff and teachers find this suitable as it minimizes your preparation time and allows you to focus more time coaching your students. 

You can find a set of industry-leading activities, lessons, curriculum and training in various STEM themes here. We recommend picking 1-3 themes to start. 

Or, based on your budget, you can also consider going with a curriculum pathway that blends a few topics, like a field of engineering, a technology and computer programming, in a seamless way that creates a smooth multi-year progression for your students. You can see some ideas for a progressive STEM curriculum pathway here
Do I need to plan for online classes, in-person classes or hybrid / blended classes?
All. In today's environment, schools have learned that in case of any urgency they can switch to virtual learning to ensure educational continuity for their students. So, when selecting courses and curriculum, make sure that there are some elements that can be implemented in virtual online setting.  

In our more-than decade long experience, activities that involve easy to find materials like paper and paper goods work well in a remote setting. Also, activities that involve computer programming, researching, preparing a presentation, a video, a website, etc. are good fits for online education. 
What should I consider when thinking of an effective curriculum training or professional development for STEM / Innovation teachers?
While live in-person trainings have merit, we find them providing too much information in too little time leading to the feeling of "drinking from a fire hose". That feeling of overwhelm with the course content that you will be teaching to your students is not the most effective. 

We find most-effective trainings as the ones which deliver bite-sized content, easy-to-follow that you can implement right away. Then, keep learning and implementing as you go along. Since, you are able to put your learning into practice, that training and learning stays with you longer. 

Hence, we recommend having an online, self-paced, available at your finger tips virtual training. Even if you go for a live training, pick the ones that provide a virtual, self-paced add-on to the live training. We recommend that during your self-paced training, plan to get hands-on - pause the training and follow-along the content doing it by yourself. As you complete and progress through course work, the training should empower you to implement it. The best is having the training and content modularized, ready to use and actionable wherein you don't need to complete the full course training before starting your classes with students. 

Based on our experience, this model creates the most immersive training experience for you. Because, the proof of the training is in application and you can do these simultaneously. 

Finally, be sure that you become part of an active group as part of your training so that you can ask any questions you have as you implement and can get feedback from expert (s). 
What types of STEM classes can I offer?
When you structure your curriculum to be modularized or find one that is, you can offer many different classes or delivery formats. For example, with STEM For Kids®' courses, the teachers and educators can offer:
*  A STEM Class or Special during the school day (typically once a week per child)
* A STEM Afterschool class (typically once a week per child)
* Weekend Class
* Winter / summer break camps
* A special holiday, science day activity or teacher workday class or workshop
How can I incorporate ELA, English Language Arts, into my STEM program?
The best practices include:
* Use STEM related passages for reading comprehension. You can use these short STEM-related blogs. 
* Include books pertaining to people who have made significant contributions, discoveries and inventions. This is a great way to not only bring ELA but also to make the learning real by showcasing real-life examples of iconic people. We recommend all books from the STEM Icons series
* Encourage children to research about important STEM Icons, their discoveries  and then, present their research. To present, they can use chart boards (which are still great physical "show-and-tell" mechanisms specifically for parent / staff events), digital slide show, images, infographics, a website or a video. 
* You can use videos from the "Today In STEM History" series based on the theme that you are teaching. Have students review the short videos (less than 1 minute long), have them summarize and present their learning to their classmates. 

How can I incorporate life skills into STEM activities?
Great question! There are multitude of ways in which you can help children practice life skills in a safe, protected and controlled environment. Here are a few ways:
1. Present an exercise as a real-life problem. For example, if you are working on a simple building project, add in a money constraint. They only have a limited money to "buy" materials to build their project. This budgeting not only adds mathematical practice but also helps children use creative and critical thinking in prudently using their money in coming up with their design projects. 
2. In collaborative projects, have children take roles like project manager, engineer, etc. This helps children learn about real world team play with roles and responsibilities. 
3. Create various avenues for children to express their thoughts and ideas. Simple meta-cognition exercises like reflecting on an activity and having children present their learning helps develop their communication skills.  
I have been asked to plan a STEM / Science challenge with social studies link. How do I do this?

* Include books pertaining to people who have made significant contributions, discoveries and inventions in the midst of various social challenges like the Black STEM Icons who persisted during the Civil War era. We recommend the book, STEM Icons Celebrating Black History. 
* Encourage children to research about the important STEM discoveries during a social period and then, present their research. To present, they can use chart boards (which are still great physical "show-and-tell" mechanisms specifically for parent / staff events), digital slide show, images, infographics, a website, an animation or a video. 

I will be teaching a STEM class for the first time, what mistakes should I avoid?
There are so many teachers who want to engage their students with STEM. There are so many entrepreneurial parents who want to bring STEM as an afterschool programs or a camp for their children and their friends. With so much interest and so much potential to getting children future-ready, watch out for these top 3 mistakes that STEMmers make. Moni Singh takes her decades of experience practicing STEM, teaching STEM to kids and coaching educators to bring STEM to their students, to provide you a distilled view of the mistakes to avoid: 1. Limiting your thinking, 2. Trying to create lesson plans from scratch and 3. Not selling your ideas. Watch the complete tutorial for free here.  
How can I incorporate budgeting into an engineering design project?
2nd graders buying materials with money? 4th graders developing a material plan to fit a budget? Yes! It's real. Learn from Moni Singh how she incorporated money and budgeting for young kids. The best part... parents love it when you teach them financial savviness! It's a life skill, highly in demand and yet not dealt with typically in schools. Make your STEM programs unique and relevant. Watch the tutorial for free here. 

How can I ensure that kids become interested in the STEM topic I am doing?
You have to find a way to "reel them in" by arousing their curiosity. Curiosity makes the difference between an "okay" STEM class and an exciting one... the one that gets the students totally engaged. We recommend using simple tricks that look like magic... we call them STEM Magic. Watch a detailed tutorial on STEM magics and arousing curiosity here.  
How can I make my STEM specials and programs impactful?
There are four important characteristics of impactful STEM programs. Of course, once you have thought through what you are focused on imparting to the children, consider these: 
1. Go for immersion, not just dabbling.
2. Remember to incorporate repetition to make learning "sticky". 
3. Coach the students towards creating something bringing in broader societal and community connections.
4. Help children with social-emotional learning especially by normalizing failures and having baby milestones. 

I have been asked to include research into my STEM class or program. I am worried if it will be too boring. How do I do it right?
Kids love to do research, of course, under the right set of parameters! What works the best are to give them a topic, help them structure the topic with a set of questions that they need to answer, and be specific about the output media. For example, if they are researching about a famous STEM creator, say Elon Musk, some specific questions to address could be:
1. What is the person's major achievement?
2. What was their childhood like?
3. What did their career pathway look like? What was their education?
4. What impact did their creation make? Why is it so significant?
5. If you could do something to make their creation even better, what would it be? Why? 
You can have other questions and can also involve the kids in adding / changing / deleting questions. With regards to the output media, be clear if it will be a set of Power Point slides, Google slides, a video, a website or something else. Encourage kids to keep compiling the information as they go along so they keep making progress with the output. 
Finally, since the research will involve using the Internet, do discuss Internet safety, privacy and ethics. 

Their outputs are a great way to keep your administration and parents in the loop... show them the great work being done in your classroom! 
About Moni Singh
A young aspiring girl becomes the first female engineer in her community. In her quest to solve global challenges and to make a lasting difference, she contributes to design, manufacturing and sales of technologies like wireless and satellite phones, internet to homes and smart meters. 

Heeding her calling, she then immerses in the mission to bring the excitement of science and engineering careers to children. With rigorous labor of love, she develops STEM For Kids®, an educational system, that for over a decade has been enabling entrepreneurs, teachers and educators globally to bring fresh multi-dimensional STEM curriculum into their classrooms. 

Her creation, STEM For Kids®, ranked #173 on the highly coveted Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list. She is a recognized Leader in STEM who has delivered "quadruple-wins" in numerous communities in 5 countries. She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition including the Triangle Business Journal's 40-under-40, Women in Business - Leader in STEM and Entrepreneur Magazine's 100 Women Of Impact.

Having gone through several transformations in her own life and career, seeing the world from various vantage points, from preparing herself to preparing organizations, to educators and to preparing children … she has learnt and developed impactful knowledge on future preparedness for kids. Now, she is on a mission to help children succeed by passing this practical knowledge on to parents, educators and caregivers around the globe.

Meet Moni Singh, a learner, a creator, an educator, and a mother of three children. 
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