STEM as a "special"??

Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:04 PM


I’ve been asked to teach STEM as a special to our k-8 studnets, once per week (25 classes of kids, 5 classes per day). Is this even possible? Not sure how others make this work when providing “STEM” 40 minutes per week to each class. Please help! :-)


Beth Sommers
Beth Sommers
3520 Activity Points

Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:32 PM


My name is Nina Stiell and I have taught both elementary age and middle school.  It is possible but you definitely need to keep in mind the organization of their projects and time management.  The students might need to keep a  journal of some kind to help them keep up with what they have already due and what needs to be due the next class meeting.  I would start with short STEM projects that can be done in your class period and then move on to long duration projects.  I’m not sure what STEM material you are using but EiE offers some great free webinars on STEM related activities.  The STEMscope Science Series Textbook also have great PBL projects that are aligned with the engineering design process.  But your school would have to purchase that textbook.  Oh, mystery science is also awesome.  I hope this is helpful. 

Good luck,

Nina Stiell 

Nina Stiell
Nina Stiell
3770 Activity Points

Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:26 AM

Hi Beth-

I teach a K-5 STEAM program. It sounds like a similar assignment to your assignment. You can follow some of our progress via twitter. My twitter page is RSS STEAM @WilligSTEAM.


Robin Willig
Robin Willig
5590 Activity Points

Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:47 AM

Hi Beth,

I teach K-5 STEM at Barbara Morgan STEM academy in Idaho. I've also taught 8th grade. I'm in my 5th year at BMSA. I'd be more than happy to help you. It is possible. But it does need to be set up the right way so that you don't feel overwhelmed. If you'd like any info., to see my schedules or lesson plans or to just ask questions of just let me know.  We have four STEM schools in our district and we all run them differently. I can give you ideas of what it can look like and what you can do with the time. You can email me at
Lynnea Shafter

Lynnea Shafter
Lynnea Shafter
4475 Activity Points

Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:20 AM

Thank you so much, Lynnea for your kind offer to help! Yes - I'd love to see what your schedule looks like and how you go about setting up for teaching your lessons.


Beth Sommers
Beth Sommers
3520 Activity Points

Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:09 PM

I would also love to see your schedule or a sample lesson plan - i am trying to create a job like this at my school. Thanks for this generous offer. Kathybiernat@gmail.

Kathy Biernat
Kathy Biernat
2810 Activity Points

Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:01 AM

Beth and everyone,
You might also post this question on the STEM, earlychildhood and elementary email lists/listservs run by NSTA. You will add to the conversation and reach even more experienced NSTA members. The responses come to email instead of being archived on a platform but the conversations are just as helpful.

My experience is with children ages 2.5-5 years old--also a wide developmental range : ) I haven't taught in your situation but over the years I've heard from others who have.
They say that organizing the materials for 5 classes a day of children in grades K-8 will make your teaching time more productive.
Think about what materials can be left out for subsequent classes. For example, having high shelves where I can quickly move trays of materials used by the 4/5s when the Twos come into the room is essential.
Think about projects that can involve multiple ages at different levels, such as gardening. While middle school students are examining cell structure using microscopes, Kindergarten students can be planting seeds. The NGSS Appendix E-Progressions Within the Next Generation Science Standards can help us make decisions about what to teach when.
In keeping with research that shows children learn over time, plan to teach a concept over weeks and months, not just one week, especially the K-2 students.

I hope your colleagues in the grade level classrooms can meet with you to see how you all can collaborate so science-technology-engineering-math doesn't become isolated from the rest of the children's learning.
Best wishes for a successful program!
Peggy Ashbrook

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
6270 Activity Points

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