STEMing with Computer Science

Students create protractors with Hummingbird Robotics and MakeyMakey.

Often in education, learning becomes siloed into focusing on one component of a much larger unit. How do we provide educators with the ability to zoom out and see the bigger picture? That is what STEM is all about!

STEM focuses on designing cross-curricular, hands-on, real-world learning experiences, and giving students the time they need to iterate. Relevance is key here! If STEM focuses on only the “T”, it would be doing a disservice to the “S, E, & M”. These cross curricular activity examples for PreK-5 bring soft skills to the forefront and are enhanced with or without the aide or inclusion of a robot. Let’s explore some examples:

Hands working together with littleBits.
Students work together to connects different Bits to transform energy.
  • Bring a favorite picture book to life with the help of the Makey Makeys
  • Create smart devices for homes that illustrate transformed energy with littleBits
  • Explore and build simple machines with LegoWeDo
Two girls working together will a robot.
Students work together to program a robot through a forest fire to collect data for firefighters.
  • Use Bluebot or Botley  robot to navigate through a dangerous fire to collect data for firefighters

While these types of activities support cross-curricular learning, they also support computer science learning. When you zoom out, you can see that these examples solidify how you can seamlessly incorporate STEM, coding and computer science standards into a classroom.  This is especially important for elementary educators with the state of Virginia requiring the integration of computer science standards in the 2019-2020 school year.

Authorship Information

Krystle Demas is an elementary instructional technology coach for Goochland County Public Schools. She spent seven years in the classroom and has been an instructional technology coach for the last four. She has her master’s degree in teaching from James Madison University. During her career, she has been awarded as the teacher of the year at Goochland Elementary School in 2013, Employee of the Year for Goochland County Public Schools in 2017, and a 2018 VSTE Technology Coach of the Year.

Stephanie Playton is a STEM Learning Specialist at Longwood’s Institute for Teaching through Technology and Innovative Practices. She is currently a PhD student at Texas Tech University.  In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and son. You can follow her at @STEMGal on Twitter.

%d bloggers like this: