Tuesday, November 27, 2018

What's In Your Elementary STEM Lab?

Often when people come to visit our lower school STEM lab they ask "how did you know what to put it in?" The truth is, we didn't, but we learned along the way. The first thing I would suggest to a school system wanting to create a STEM lab is not to try to buy everything in the beginning. Don't let the tools dictate the learning. Buy as you see needs and desires. I wish we had done this a bit more in the beginning.

This is what we currently have in our lab now that we are 3 years into the program:

  • Wonder Workshop Dash and Dot Robots. These are our "go to" robotics for elementary students. They work with 4 different apps- Wonder, Blockly, Go, Path...the various apps meet different levels of coding ability. Their durability is amazing.
  • Wonder Workshop Cue Robots. These robots even allow students to toggle between block coding a javascript.
  • Sphero Robots. Sturdy for use by young children and can even get them wet. 
  • Ozobots Evo and Bit. Start with color coding and move to block-based coding. 
  • Makey Makey. Inventor kit that allows students to turn everyday objects into keyboards using the concept of electric circuitry.  
  • Cube-lets. Small cubes that connect magnetically to create a larger simple robot. 
  • Merge Cubes. Hologram enabled Augmented/Virtual reality ability.
  • Legos. Great for engineering lessons. 
  • Magnetic building sets. Great for engineering lessons for younger children. 
  • Little Bits STEAM Student Sets. Tools needed for invention ideas in the student inventor book.  Each set can engage 3-4 students at one time. 
  • Little Bits. Circuits that snap together. 
  • LEGO Mindstorm EV3Robotics. Allows students to build, program and command these LEGO based robots.
  • LEGO Education WeDo kits. Curriculum, software and STEM, discovery-based project kits.
  • Makerbot 3D Printer. Ways to make 3D designs. 
  • 5 Lenovo Laptops. 
  • 5 iPads.
  • Class Set of Chromebooks.
  • Microscopes
  • Safety Goggles
  • Beakers
  • Extra large "LEGO" like building blocks. Large enough to set up different areas in the room by creating walls for separation
  • Markers
  • Glue Sticks
  • Glue
  • Glue guns
  • Tubs
  • Scissors
  • Aluminum Pans
  • Containers
  • Duct Tape
  • Construction Paper
  • Yarn
  • String
  • Paint
  • Other craft type supplies

At the beginning of the year we added one item on each grade level supply list for the lab:

Pre-K -1 pack of popsicle sticks
Kindergarten -1 package of sticky notes
First- 1 pack sandwich baggies
Second- 1 package drinking straws
Third- 1 package toothpicks
Fourth- 1 roll masking tape
Fifth- 1 roll scotch tape

Some of our tools are "go to" items. The robotics and coding platforms are used across the curriculum to teach in classroom concepts regardless of the subject matter. Our students code robots to show learning in everything from language arts, bible, science, math, and geography. The time our students spend in the STEM lab directly supports the integrated units in our lower school. It is taking science, technology, engineering and math and making it actionable.

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