Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), is based on the philosophy of teaching the four disciplines using an integrated approach, a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications, rather than as separate discrete subjects. Many junior primary teachers are already doing this as subject integration underlines their daily teaching. So what do they need to do, to be considered teaching STEM?
First of all, I don’t think they need to necessarily add stand alone STEM lessons into their curriculum, unless for design technology and they are programming STEM challenges (I’ll blog about this in a future post). What I do think junior primary teachers need to do though, is to start identifying and naming where STEM already exists in their program, and their literacy programs is a good place to begin.
Junior primary teacher’s programs are rich with literacy based tasks. They quite often choose a text, such as Possum Magic by Mem Fox, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle or Mr Archimedes’ Bath by Pamela Allen (just to name a few), and develop rich learning tasks based on the text. What I don’t think they do though, is it to name the STEM involved.
To teach STEM without adding in an extra lesson, teachers can start by using the language of STEM when reading texts to students. Ask your students; Is there any Science in this text? Technology? What about engineering, did anyone build or invent anything? Did you notice any Maths? Through discussion you can begin to create a culture of STEM. In addition, where you have listed a text in your program, ask yourself if you have identified the text as a STEM text. Use the acronym STEM in your program.
So what might be considered a STEM text? There are many. Recently I was at a conference and I read the most beautiful picture book called The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. It is a book about persistence, engineering and problem solving. I also had the pleasure of listening to two speakers, Teresa Pascoe and Gary Pascoe, who spoke about STEM through literacy. Teresa is APRIM at Christ the King Parish School, Warradale, SA and Gary is the Deputy Principal at Emmaus College Primary School, Woodcroft SA.
At the end of their session, they gave those who attended a copy of a resource which they had created called, STEM through literacy. The resource is a list of STEM picture books. They have kindly allowed me to share their resource with you through my blog. You can download a copy below, just remember, sharing is caring and please respect their work by not re uploading unless you have asked for permission first.