Both STEM and EdTech are hot topics these days, and educators can now leverage a host of wonderful tools that make teaching easier and learning more interactive. Here we describe some of the hottest new technology in STEM education, and provide a list of free online resources available to you, including STEM websites, simulations, communications tools, and tips for teachers.
These tools are transforming the way teachers approach STEM. They help you tie the theoretical concepts of your subjects into real-world applications. By showing students that the knowledge you’re imparting is relevant and useful, you can more successfully engage them in your lessons, while developing their creativity and problem-solving skills. Ultimately, you could help inspire a new generation of scientists, mathematicians, and innovators!
Hot Educational Technology for STEM Teachers
In The 82 Hottest EdTech Tools of 2017 According to Education Experts, we found some great STEM tools:
Matific – Math Games and Worksheets
Ranked #7 on the EdTech Top 82 list, Matific is a series of immersive, bite-sized apps for smartphones, tablets and PCs. Designed for children ages 4-11, this blended learning resource uses a modular, progressive learning system that connects math concepts to common objects. A Nobel Prize winner reviewed this tool saying, “Matific is a fantastic tool for teaching math intuitively and introducing children to scientific thinking.”
Microduino - DIY Electronics for Makers of All Ages
Ranked #16 on the list, Microduino offers digital building block kits that allow students to build, animate, and control objects they construct. The kits can connect to a variety of digital input and output devices. Time Magazine named Microduino #1 of the top 5 STEM education kits for teaching kids engineering and coding.
Ardusat – For Building, Coding, Engineering, and Experimentation
This tool is designed to help educators make learning exciting. Ardusat combines student-friendly hardware kits with web-based lesson plans. In each experiment, students use Ardusat to build, code, and show off what they’re learning – all within one or two class periods. The experiments are designed around Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Wondering which EdTech took the #1 spot on this list? It was Nearpod, a lesson-creation tool that lets teachers import files or Google slides and add interactive activities, websites, and videos to your lesson plans, to better engage your students. Nearpod also provides several pre-made, fully-interactive lessons, developed by subject matter experts, for all school levels and subjects. Users have access to Nearpod 3D and Nearpod VR, allowing integration with Smartphone VR headsets like Google Cardboard to create virtual field trips.
Other Tools Transforming STEM Education
MASTER Tools – Modeling and Simulation Tools
Developed by the Shodor Education Foundation, MASTER Tools provide interactive simulation environments that enable and encourage exploration and discovery through observation, conjecture, and modeling activities.
Instructional materials are currently available for GalaxSee, SimSurface, and the Fractal Microscope. A growing portfolio of materials will be coming soon, including models for medicine and biosciences and environmental science.
These beautiful little tablets are nothing new to you, but if you haven’t yet integrated them into your teaching routine, now might be a good time. With iPads, teachers can send notes and worksheets directly to students during class, and students are able to turn in homework digitally, for near-instant feedback. iPads open new avenues of research and information for students, while offering apps for a variety of educational topics, from vocabulary to design to STEM. For tips on using iPads in the classroom, check out this article.
TI-Nspire – A Handheld, Graphing Calculator
A calculator like this helps students get the most out of math and science classes, giving them a chance to apply their newly-learned formulas and knowledge. Besides calculating, doing matrices and chart derivatives, the TI-Nspire can do a video simulation to test a graphic hypothesis. It lets students view overlaying graphs on their photos, so they can see math’s application in the images of their everyday lives. Students can also save their work and link to their computer.
As 3-D printers get less expensive and more ubiquitous, schools have begun integrating them into their science and engineering curriculums. Students have used 3-D printers for projects ranging from dioramas of real or imagined constructions, to engineering the fastest model car, to reconstructing eyeballs and better understanding how they work.
This educational toy has come a long way and is now a great tool in the STEM classroom. Lego has developed a curriculum for using its products in pre-school through middle school lesson plans. Their website says, “Grow your students’ creative problem-solving skills and enable them to become the critical thinkers and creators of the future. LEGO® Education solutions support your teaching efforts with effective, structured and curriculum-relevant teaching solutions for STEM… Encourage your students to develop 21st century skills through coding as they program solutions in a real-world context.”
High-tech flight simulators let kids get in the cockpit of a simulated airplane to “fly” over cities and navigate appropriate trajectories. Students who dream of becoming pilots can see how math and science are used in the profession, while others will have a better grasp of the scientific concepts that could be used in any field. These flight simulator stations costs about $4,000 each, so your school may want to apply for an outside grant.
The STEM field is not merely about math and science. The Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) require students to “obtain, evaluate, and communicate information.” Students must learn to engage in argumentation, verbal reasoning, and explaining with evidence. In the old days, perhaps they’d make a poster, and more recently they might learn to incorporate PowerPoint or Word. However, we can now do better than that.
Here are some dynamic new technology tools that enable students to communicate information in innovative, creative, and visually appealing ways. All of these resources:
- Are free
- Can be downloaded, emailed, and/or shared
- Are web-based
- Have privacy mechanisms
Canva – Create posters, eBooks, and Event Flyers
Canva offers 63 different design types that students and teachers can easily use to communicate information with a vast array of graphics, text options, icons, and templates.
Visme – Presentation, Infographic, and Banner Tools
Of this list, Visme is the easiest to use. Editing features are simple yet powerful, and data can be incorporated in beautiful ways. The Visme Twitter account (@Vismeapp) supplies useful tips and tricks to boost communication skills.
Piktochart – Create Infographics, Presentations, Posters, and Reports
Piktochart provides a host of free templates, and users can upload files, insert graphics, adjust font and backgrounds, and incorporate graphs, videos, and maps to customize their presentation.
Lucidpress – A Free Google-based Alternative to Microsoft Word
This tool includes a wide variety of document templates such as resumes, brochures, menus, and many more. Lucidpress integrates with GoogleDrive, for simultaneous collaboration among multiple users.
Prezi – Focusing on Memorable Presentations
Now hugely popular, Prezi offers a wide variety of templates and customizable features to create more engaging, powerful presentations. Like Lucidpress, Prezi also allows simultaneous collaboration among multiple users.
Additional Resources for Teachers: Websites, Online Simulations, Tips, Tools, and Curricula
From eSchoolNews: Suggestions for NGSS Tool Use
A variety of STEM resources from the NEA, including Curriculum and Professional Development
From FlyRussell: Games, Simulations, and Virtual Labs for astronomy, biology, chemistry, Earth science, and Physics
From the University of Colorado Boulder: PhET free interactive math and science simulations
From the Concord Consortium: The STEM resource finder
Labster: Laboratory Simulations empowering the next generation of scientists to change the world. Examples include: Acids and Bases, Animal genetics, Embryology, Genetically Engineered Machine, Medical Genetics, and Photosynthesis
The STEM Teaching Tools website
From Solution Fluency: The best free STEM tools on the Web
Top 10 Educational Websites for STEM of 2017