If you ask me, every day is a good day for a STEM challenge! The reality in most classrooms is that we’re doing a great job to get in one challenge a week. And if we’re going to choose a day, I think Fridays make the most sense for several reasons.
Check out my reasons in the video below. The transcripts are included underneath, if you prefer to read all about it. 🙂
Hi. Welcome back. Today, we’re going to be talking about five reasons to do STEM challenges every Friday.
1: Decreases Absentee Rate
STEM challenges are pretty universally beloved by students. So, what I found is that doing STEM challenges on Fridays decreases the absentee rate. I frequently had high absence rates on Fridays, Mondays, and assessment days. When I was going through my design-based learning master’s program, I actually had to track the absence rates before and after I started STEM challenges, and there was a difference once I began doing them on a regular basis. Anecdotally, I’ve even had students ask me on a Thursday afternoon if we’re doing a new STEM challenge the next day.
2: Revitalizes Students After Assessments
Since we’re already on the topic of assessments, we know those often lands on Fridays and it can be very draining for the students. STEM challenge provide a little bit of fun to reinvigorate a Friday afternoon.
3: Work Around Parent/Admin Skeptics
If you have parents or administrators who might be a little bit skeptical because STEM challenges just look like too much fun, it’s very helpful to start on Fridays until you feel confident in explaining all the benefits behind those STEM challenges, because even skeptics will cut you a little bit of slack on a Friday.
4: Easy Center Setup for Following Week
Another great reason is that it sets you up for the following week. I’m always talking about how important it is to do multiple iterations, but I’m also very practical. I know you can’t do a whole class multiple iterations for every single STEM challenge, but what you can do is set up centers or places where early finishers can go to follow up on a prior STEM challenge. So, the following week, if you have center rotations going, you can add in a second iteration of a challenge you’ve already done, because the students already know the gist of the challenges. Students won’t need a lot of assistance there. They’ll be able to do this pretty independently. If you don’t do center rotations, you could set up an area of your room like a makerspace so students who finish other tasks early in the following week can go and work on their second iterations. For those students who need just a little bit of extra time to come up with ideas, that gives them the whole weekend to sort of ponder and marinate before they come back the following week where they can try out their new ideas.
5: Re-direct Crazy Friday Energy into Meaningful, Engaging Learning!
Perhaps the best reason of all is Friday afternoons can be challenging. At the end of a long week, it can be so difficult to keep students engaged and to really use all of your instructional minutes well. If you’re self-contained, this is the perfect Friday afternoon activity, because the students will remain engaged right up to that last minute and you can feel really good about it because it’s collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work disguised as fun. Are you getting sick of me saying that yet? That’s it for today. Make sure that you are following or subscribed so you don’t miss anything. I will be back next week with the delights and the dangers of parent volunteers during STEM challenges. Hope you have a fabulous week. See you next time.