How to Know if STEM Kits Are Worth Your Time

Are you looking to incorporate STEM kits but aren’t quite sold on the idea? A major fear for many teachers is that STEM kits won’t cover enough curriculum material to be worth the time spent on them.
If you want to ensure STEM kits are worth your time, google the title and see if anyone has written about the kits. If you can’t find any reviews beyond the company’s site, ask for a sample and see what the company will send you. If all else fails, ask the company for a teacher contact who uses the kits and can provide you with some information. You will want to ask this teacher question such as:
1. How long did the kit take?
2. Did you have to go back and reteach the concepts the kit presented?
3. How much teacher involvement was required?
4. Did your students enjoy the kit?
5. What is the quality of the questions/prompts/ data collection in the kit?
STEM kits should be content rich and should be student-driven. When you look at a kit, be sure most of the action is the job of your students not you. Your role should be minimal and may include teaching some background content, minimal setup, and clarification points. If the kit requires you to teach all of the content, the kit is probably not going to cover much new content during the action. You want the students to learn new concepts as well as review learned concepts throughout the kit.
Lastly, be sure the kit includes some type of reflection or additional activity for reinforcement. The concepts presented in a STEM kit shouldn’t “go away” once the kit is complete. You definitely need a way to reinforce the content and to encourage continued student interest and research on the topic.
Check out our kits- they follow NGSS, are content-rich, and have ample student reflection. The also marry technology, history, data, and teamwork.
Xandy Whitman
www.practicaleducator.com

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