Hey there, STEM enthusiasts! Are you looking for some easy STEM activities for the classroom? I’ve got you covered! In this blog series, I’ll be sharing 30 easy STEM Activities you can do in 30 minutes or less! And don’t worry! These activities were designed to be easy for you, but still challenging for students!
Over the next month, I’ll be revealing five ideas at a time to help you seamlessly incorporate STEM activities for the classroom. These STEM activities are perfect for shorter class periods. Even better, each post will come with at least one free resource. Today, I have four fantastic, FREE resources to share with you! Exciting, right?
Here’s the plan:
Week 1: The 4 C’s of Engineering Overview, Collaboration & Communication Activities (scroll down)
So, let’s dive into Week 1, where we’ll focus on an overview of the 4 Cs of Engineering, with a special emphasis on collaboration and communication. Get ready for some exciting STEM activities for the classroom that will ignite curiosity and foster critical thinking skills in your students.
Here are 5 quick & easy activities for the 4 Cs of Engineering that you can implement right away!
STEM Activities for the Classroom #1:
4 Cs of Engineering Overview
Prepare students for STEM activities for the classroom by introducing the 4 C’s of Engineering. The 4 Cs of Engineering are creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, & communication. I like to include an honorary 5th C as well: curiosity.
To lay the groundwork, start with a quick overview of the 4 Cs: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. You can use posters or visuals to introduce them and then have students discuss what each C looks like and sounds like, as well as what it doesn’t look like and sound like. It’s a simple but effective way to get them thinking about these essential skills. I like to include an honorary 5th C as well: curiosity.
You can grab the 4 C’s of Engineering Posters & Activity free right here!
STEM Activities for the Classroom #2:
Helping students learn to truly collaborate isn’t often easy. We expect it from them, but we rarely take the time to teach what we expect. I’m certainly guilty of that! It is worth the investment of time to define what collaboration is, what it looks like, what it sounds like, and how to troubleshoot when collaborations don’t go according to plan.
I have a free teaching resource that can help you with STEM activities for the classroom. It includes a lesson plan, Google Slides™ for projection or assignments, printable discussion questions, and sample answer keys. When students actively participate in creating the expectations for collaborations, it will be more meaningful and they’ll be more likely to strive toward teamwork goals. Enjoy!
STEM Activities for the Classroom #3:
Collaborate on a Quick Build
Once students are in agreement on what a good collaboration looks & sounds like, it’s time to put it into practice with a quick build activity! Quick builds don’t require going through the entire engineering design process. Think of them the same way you do like quick writes in ELA. While you wouldn’t only do quick writes to create skilled writers, you wouldn’t want to only do quick builds to create skilled STEM thinkers, doers and engineers! That said, quick builds have a place in every classroom!
Choose a simple challenge that uses basic materials, like building an index card tower. Emphasize that the goal is to develop collaboration skills, rather than focusing solely on the final tower. After the challenge, have students discuss and reflect on how well they collaborated, allowing them to enhance their understanding of effective collaboration and develop strategies for improvement.
STEM Activities for the Classroom #4:
Speak, Listen, Draw Communication
Speak, Listen, Draw is an excellent activity for practicing oral and written communication skills, reinforcing math vocabulary, and honing estimation and measurement skills. It’s versatile and can be used for sub day plans or center activities any time you want to practice speaking, listening, following directions & more.
Take a quick peek at it in action below: (Note: I started the video part-way through to skip to how it works & mixed-age students doing the activity.)
All you need is a simple set of drawings to start with. You can have students create them, create your own, or grab this resource to save some time. There’s even a free Halloween-themed sampler available here. It’s a fun and engaging way to strengthen communication skills while incorporating math elements.
Stem Activities for the Classroom #5:
Speak, Listen, Build Communication
STEM activities for the classroom are perfect for teaching collaboration. Luckily, this awesome activity, Speak, Listen, Build will do just that! This is exactly the same idea as above. But what you’ll want to do is set students up in pairs so they can’t see each other’s work space.
Give each student an identical set of materials (think: 10 index cards, a set of blocks, or building bricks). You want to keep it simple
Have one student build a quick mystery structure of their choice in 1-2 minutes. (While partners are waiting, they can also be free-building.)
When the first student is ready, they’ll direct their partner to build an identical structure. You can decide whether you want to allow the director to peek at what the builder is doing so they can adjust directions in real-time or just wait for the big reveal at the end.
Have partners debrief or have a whole-class discussion to go over what successful, clear communication looks like & sounds like.
Then have students switch roles (and possibly select a new material) and build again.
STEM Activities for the Classroom (Bonus):
Exchange Students Communication
Here’s a cool bonus idea to enhance communication during a STEM Challenge build phase. (I got the idea from a teacher at a PD I was leading. I wish I could give her credit, but I didn’t write down her name & it’s been years!)
About half-way into a build, leave one student in every group and scatter the others to another group’s build site and designated host. Have the host debrief the new group on what the old group was aiming to accomplish.
The new group must attempt to carry out the first group’s designs (though I would allow some flexibility in the event the design isn’t successful and needs adjusting).
Let your students know ahead of time you’re planning on doing this before you begin, though you don’t have to tell them who the host will be.
Once you’ve tried the half-way swap, you might consider splitting a build into thirds so you can fit another swap into the process.
That’s it for the first five easy STEM activities for the classroom! Stay tuned for the next post, which will focus on the next “C” of engineering: critical thinking. And don’t forget to check out the Ultimate 30 Minute STEM Activities Kit, packed with mind-bending activities that are easy for you and still challenging for your students!
“See” you soon!
Check Out the Ultimate 30 Minute STEM Activities Bundle: