A common phrase I hear is, “There’s just no time for STEM.” Trust me, I get it. Along with this, there’s often concern about student behavior and a longing for a more cohesive classroom community. But what if I told you that integrating STEM into your curriculum could be the very answer to these challenges, helping to significantly improve your classroom community?
While STEM, STEAM, STREAM, and STREAMA are closely related, I’m going to stick with STEM to keep this post cohesive.
In my years of coaching a K-2 STEM team in North Carolina, I’ve seen firsthand how STEM education can spark curiosity, foster a growth mindset, and crucially, improve the classroom community. STEM is far more than an academic add-on – it’s a powerful tool for developing essential life skills and building a thriving, positive classroom environment.
Seeing the STEM Impact Firsthand
One of my most memorable experiences was during a bottle rocket project. The students had diligently built their rockets, and we had invited the news media to witness their blast-off. The excitement was palpable, but as launch time neared, I realized we’d all – myself included – constructed our rockets incorrectly!
Instead of witnessing successful launches, we were about to experience spectacular failures.
But what happened next was magical.
Rather than crying in front of all the parents and media (trust me—I thought about it), everyone cheered enthusiastically as we used our last 2-liter bottle for a communal blast-off. Students, parents, and teachers laughed, clapped, and learned together. It was in this moment of shared “failure” that we experienced a fantastic triumph of camaraderie and community.
How Does STEM Improve Classroom Community?
It’s natural to wonder how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) relates to classroom community. The connection is simple but deep.
1. Improving Classroom Community through Collaboration
STEM education often necessitates group projects and problem-solving activities. These shared experiences require students to work together, leading to stronger relationships and fostering a sense of community.
2. All Voices Matter in STEM
STEM activities encourage all students to participate, promoting an inclusive environment where diverse voices are heard. This inclusivity reinforces a stronger classroom community, celebrating differences and individual strengths.
3. Builds Classroom Resilience and Perseverance with STEM
STEM education involves tackling challenges, which teaches students resilience and perseverance. As students support each other through difficulties, a shared sense of belonging is cultivated.
4. Improves Communication Skills for a Stronger Community
Many STEM activities demand effective communication of ideas. This improved communication can lead to enhanced relationships and community feeling in the classroom.
5. Improve Classroom Community by Teaching Respect and Empathy through STEM
STEM activities often require varying perspectives and problem-solving methods. This helps students learn to respect different ideas and ways of thinking – which is crucial for a strong classroom community.
Make the Shift: From STEM Skeptic to STEM Advocate
STEM education can be transformative – not just for your students, but for the entire classroom atmosphere. It’s a vehicle for developing a positive classroom environment, bolstering communication, fostering a growth mindset, and promoting mutual respect. And the best part? You can start today practicing these skills.
STEM Challenges to Kick-Start Your School Year
Ready to give STEM a try?
I have STEM activities for the entire school year! These activities are designed to engage students in 2 – 4 grades while building a positive classroom community.
If you’re looking for something for little learners, then you’ve got to try these Alphabet STEM Activities. There are 26 STEM activities– one for each letter of the alphabet– and they cover every math and science standard for kindergarten.
Yep, you get a full year’s curriculum right here! ⤵️
If you want to start small, try the STEM Boxes with Task Cards. These are easy STEM activities for elementary students that allow them to explore different types of materials and it gives them multiple opportunities for success. Plus, I’ve added QR codes on the STEM task cards to integrate reading.
Extra, Extra: Free Teamwork Toolkit
If you’re all in for STEM, I’m so excited! But maybe teamwork is tripping you up? I’ve got your back with my FREE Teamwork Toolkit. This isn’t just about chit-chat; it comes loaded with 30 awesome conversation starters, a Performance Rubric, and a Resolution Roadmap.
In short, this toolkit is your go-to guide to turn group work chaos into classroom magic. Your students will collaborate like mini CEOs and even beg for more team challenges.
Grab it here ➡️ Free Teamwork Toolkit
With STEM education, the possibility of improving the classroom community is within your grasp. By integrating STEM into your curriculum, you’re not just teaching students about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. You’re teaching them about teamwork, resilience, communication, respect, and inclusivity.
Take the leap into STEM education- your students, your classroom community, and even you might be pleasantly surprised by the results!