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STEM school starter guide: Your first design challenge

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So you’re ready to start a STEM program at your school, where do you begin? First, check out our programs including the STEM Leaders Academy for principals/administrators and our trainings in Common Core-aligned literacy/math teaching methods.

Need something faster? In just 3-4 weeks, you can organize your own design challenge to get teachers and students thinking with a STEM mindset.

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Here’s a quick guide to how one school we worked with organized their very first design challenge. The tips come straight from Aimee Kennedy, Battelle‘s Vice-President for Education, Philanthropy and STEM Learning and a former principal.

Step 1: Determining Design Challenge focus

Two topics presented to Staff as options for 2nd semester Design Challenges:

  1. The Millennium Development Goals with a student exhibition in March
  2. The Olympics, with student exhibitions in May

Step 2: Dividing into Design Teams

  1. Each Staff member came to staff meeting prepared to answer:
    • For each Design Challenge Topic, something students could create or produce that is relevant to my content and the Design Challenge Context is:
      • *instead of—not in addition to
    • A way that at least two other content areas could tie into my proposed products is:
  2. Each teacher individually decided on ONE of the two design groups
  3. Fishbowl protocol for both design groups—lots of accountability; little risk

Step 3: Teacher Design Team Planning Targets

After Fishbowl protocols, teachers finalized design team choice; goals for each group for the following week

  • Finalize student product(s)
  • Draft a Rubric for student product(s) for exhibition
  • Plan the logistics of exhibition—outside evaluators
  • Back-map calendar for each working group’s content classes—who is covering what and when
  • Plan Hook activity

 Your turn: What will your school do?

Got a great idea for a first design challenge? Just leave it in the comments below and help other schools do more with STEM.

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