The Ultimate Secret to Learning with STEM

Happy October you festive ball of fun!As you well know, we are getting into the season of the seasonal. First Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas. How are you supposed to get any teaching done with all the sugar-crazed insanity and general excitement in your classroom? Better yet, how are you supposed to get them to sit still and learn things like Science? Never fear! We have the perfect solution for your on-the-go kiddos that helps them learn vocabulary and STEM all at once.Innovation StationsSounds like fun, right? I hope it does, because it is so extremely fun! Innovation Stations are a simple, stress-free way to incorporate STEM with what you are learning in other subjects.

Start with a desk, table, or other space you can designate for innovating. Pam has a layout where students sit at desk clusters, so she easily added an extra desk to the end of each cluster. The beauty of this is that you have premade groups as well. Change seating arrangements, and you change the groups! Tell students they are permitted to work at their Innovation Stations during science, centers, or free time. Trust me, they will be begging you for opportunities, and you get them actively engaged in STEM. WIN!

Make sure this is a space that can remain untouched for the entire week. Tell them that, just as people have deadlines in the real world, they will have deadlines for their STEM assignments. This way, you’re also teaching them time management. When the week is over, move on to a new assignment with a new theme.Here’s the twistYou’re going to be starting with vocabulary. That’s right, the focus of your STEM Innovation Stations will be a list of 5 or 6 vocabulary words. You can type them, write them, or if you want to get really fancy, you can download them from our FREE Learning account.


Choose vocabulary based on another lesson you’re teaching for the week. The theme of the week for Pam’s kids was Reading, so she used a group of reading words from our Daily Concept Builders™ resources.The ObjectiveStudents had to create something that helps with reading. Some of them made word machines and others letter machines. The challenge was to use the vocabulary from the sheet in their conversations and in their conclusions. This is a great application of word of the day vocabulary that beautifully flows into STEM reinforcement. For the entire routine, check out these posts:

Be a Literacy Genius in 30 Minutes per Day

5 Essential Steps to Take Your Students’ Vocabulary to a Whole New Level

These students created a word machine. The cool part about this is they created the -ake word family(which was one of the words), and the m is on a conveyor belt being delivered to the -ake family to create make. These students created a real-life functional design where the box opens up and dispenses the letters!

One group of students accounted for the possibility of machine malfunctions and created a shredder for “non-words.”

Incorporating Scientific MethodHere’s where it really gets good. Your students can utilize the steps for Scientific Method in their creations. I give a basic overview illustrating this process in our post:

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to STEM

Throughout the creation experience, your students will conduct trials to accomplish whatever goal they are trying to accomplish. Right now, the Innovation Stations are largely theoretical, but you can conduct imaginary trials where students think through what could potentially go wrong. You can also take it to the next level anytime with real-life challenges.For an easy head start…We’ve put together a lovely STEM Interactive Notebook page and Innovation Station template with project that you can use for Columbus Day. Click below for more info!

stem-notebook-boat-cover STEM Interactive Notebook

Don’t forget to write…You mean I also gain Language Arts enrichment? Yes you do! Not only are these students getting excited about science, they are receiving constant reinforcement and application regarding their target vocabulary. Check out a couple samples of their writing:
On the left we have a student who used the conditional form in a sentence. If there is a word family song, I would dance. He then has a picture of the word machine in the bottom right corner shouting out words from the Innovation Station word list and a little person on the left saying “Let’s Dance.” The girl on the right wrote: If I see a word family, it will help me read. She then lists examples of word families in her picture. These are first grade students! Many of them are English Language Learners.

This makes a differenceThis effort is brand new to Pam, who has been teaching for over 30 years. STEM is not something either of us come by easily, and she has been so amazed by the initiative her students are showing. In addition, there’s evidence of learning everywhere. Try this out in your classroom and let us know how your students enjoy it!

Have an awesome week,


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