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by Steve Quann

: : Tech skills:  Use of a projector, web video, and Word

What is STEM?
As most of you know, STEM is an acronym that stands for the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In our field, science and mathematics have sometimes been incorporated into instruction, but not until fairly recently has technology been included. (Although it is well over a decade now that we have been advocating for it.) To be honest, I don’t know many places, if any, that introduce engineering into their curricula. If you do, let us know! 

Is it important for us?
STEM is most often referred to in education as curriculum to prepare youth for the new skills they need to compete in modern technology-based society. But I think you can see how this movement can also be very helpful to the populations we serve. 

“Instructors need to offer project-based experiences that help students understand how technical disciplines can be applied in creative ways to solve real social challenges.” From Pedagogy 3.0 .

Let me share some simple ideas that you might consider for helping learners practice their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.

Lesson idea:

  1. Select a video from physics.org. You might want to enlist the class to help you decide which one.
  2. Sometimes vocabulary can be introduced before watching a video. But in this case, since the videos are demonstrations with only background music, no speech, you may want to engage students with the video first and then ask them to name the materials used in the experiment and the steps taken. (Review commands if necessary.) Then scroll down below the video and go over the material used and the written instructions.  
  3. If you have the material on hand, ask the class to instruct you to complete the experiment. (Or if you are working on the past tense, you could instead ask them to explain what happened.) Completing the experiment could be done in a number of different ways depending on your goals. You could work together as a class and talk out the steps while writing them on the board or you could have students write out the steps individually. Think about this logistically because you might need each student in front of a computer for them to be able to recall the steps.
  4. These experiments can sometimes seem to be merely magic tricks. Make sure to ask students to reflect on what they can learn from these experiments as they relate to science.

Variation: 

Have learners watch separate videos in pairs or individually. Ask them to write down the steps and exchange the instructions, so that another student or pair can read them and perform the experiment. Alternatively, have students prepare to instruct other students orally.

Note: the material for the experiment would of course need to be made available for this portion of the lesson.

Have you done this or a similar activity? Do you have a favorite science experiment video? Share your ideas in the comments.


Steve Quann was a proud staff member at World Education for many years. He was the past Director of the EdTech Center and now consults as an instructional designer on e-learning and mobile learning projects.

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