Question Everything You Think You Know

The quote above, in my opinion, encompasses a core value in STEM! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is about using prior-knowledge to make sense of the world. It involves questioning what you already know to discover and learn more!

In the article “Improving STEM program quality in out-of-school time: Tool development and validation” from the Journal of Science Education, I learned how important having STEM in and out of the classroom. Plus, how to implement it.

The article highlights some important thing that is needed to have a successful and meaningful STEM program. Below I will list and describe the important aspects needed for success in STEM:

  • Organization – Having organized and planned activities that are appropriate for the age group. Plus, having a teacher that is able to adapt to changes in the class.
  • Materials – Having materials that will engage students. These materials should go along with the learning goals.
  • Space Utilization – Utilizing the space given to make it easy to transition from one activity to the next.
  • Participation – Participation is a way to keep the students engaged in the learning while allowing the teacher to assess the progress of the students.
  • Purposeful Activities – Having purposeful activities are activities that create inquiry and questioning. Students should be able to understand the goals of the activity so that they know where the learning is going.
  • Engagement with STEM – Student engagement with STEM will help students to “construct their understanding of STEM content.”
  • STEM Content Learning – Learning relevant and accurate content about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to help students understand the world around them.
  • Inquiry – Inquiry should be used to help students question, work through problems, collect data, etc. This should be done on a deeper level to help students create a better understanding of the material.
  • Reflection – Both teachers and students should reflect on the STEM content they learned and how they applied it in real practice. It is a great way to make connections and dive deeper into the content.
  • Relationships – There should be a positive relationship between students and the teacher and also between the students. This helps create a successful learning environment where everyone feels comfortable asking questions.
  • Relevance – Having relevant STEM activities that are meaningful to the students’ lives and their personal experiences. This helps students connect to what they are doing and learning.
  • Youth Voice – Students should feel that they have a voice in the classroom to help them express their ideas, concerns, opinions, and questions.

Implementing the points listed above will help create a classroom where students feel comfortable learning new things in STEM. They will be able to question their prior-knowledge to grow their understanding.

It is also important to encourage and possibly create an outside STEM program that can dive deeper into STEM concepts. If this is not possible, it is still important to create meaningful STEM activities in the classroom that students can relate to their lives and past experiences. These activities and experiences can help inspire students to go into the STEM fields. Who knows, maybe one of your students will be inspired to discover something the world did not understand before.

I would encourage you to read the article used in this blog post to learn more about adding STEM into students lives.


Shah, A. M., Wylie, C., Gitomer, D., & Noam, G. (2018, January 09). Improving STEM program quality in out‐of‐school‐time: Tool development and validation. Retrieved February 09, 2018, from


  1. Katin-
    I love your introduction and how you draw the connection between intelligence and the way we approach STEM. As I was reading through your list of aspects important for STEM, I kept wondering if those could be “ranked” by their importance (i.e. inquiry being ranked above space utilization) but then as I kept looking at them, they are all very interconnected and all can integrally help enrich and enhance STEM. Did you find any real-world examples of STEM activities that stuck out to you? In the article or even while doing general googling?

    • Hayley,
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I organized the aspects important for STEM based on how they were organized in the article. They were organized into bigger sections such as features of the learning environment, activity engagement, STEM knowledge and practices, and youth development in STEM. The article did not go into many specific activities that stuck with me. One activity that I have experienced really stuck out to me in our Duckworth readings. It was about the “mystery box” where the students needed to complete the circuit and then figure out if a lightbulb or a battery was inside the box. I thought this used the students prior-knowledge and helped them use inquiry to find out what was inside.

  2. Katin,
    The structure of this post was really well done. You presented the material in a clear and concise manner that was easy to follow. As we’ve discussed throughout our blogs, STEM is extremely important, and I am glad you were able to bring it to life in this way. I particularly liked the graphic regarding the STEM statistics. It gives a really good visual representation of the numbers.
    The points you discussed in terms of aspects needed for success in STEM were great, but do you have any examples that come to mind for how you can accomplish any of those particular things in the classroom?

    • Billy,
      Thanks for your comment! I think that STEM is a great tool to use in the science classroom. Teachers are able to cross-cut content areas to give students a well-rounded lesson. I think that we have been taught how to accomplish a lot of these particular things in our classrooms. For starters, it is important to have a good relationship with your students to make them feel comfortable. I think it is important for them to get to know us as teachers too. Letting them know about your background, hobbies, family, etc. They should also fill out a fun activity that helps you get to know them better too. Another thing that teachers can do is to relate the things being done in the classroom to the students’ lives and help them understand why it is relevant to their lives and in the world. Plus, it is important for students to have some autonomy in the class. This will help them feel like they have a voice and can talk openly about their ideas and questions.

  3. Katin,

    I think you bring up some really great points in this blog! One thing I find interesting is how many people hear the word “STEM” and think, “Oh yeah, that’s important.” But does anyone REALLY know what teaching STEM is all about? I think you summarized it wonderfully in this post, and I hope that people will take the time to learn about it because it’s so much more than a “oh yeah that’s important” kind of topic. It’s a deep, invigorating, wonderfully area of study!

    • Naomi,
      Thanks for your comment! I think that there is more to STEM than meets the eye. Taking the time to unpack it is important for everyone, especially students. It is a way to help them understand the world around them and get them involved with these growing markets early. I think by using the methods highlighted in my blog, STEM can thrive and be used to deepen students understanding while also loving what they are learning.

  4. Katin,
    I love the quote at the beginning! I agree that it really encompasses what STEM and STEM education are trying to do. Your graphics/pictures are great, and add a lot of value to your blog! I enjoyed the video to the TEDTalk that you posted! Having a better understanding of STEM and how science works in general is so important, and I’m glad that you touched on it! Great work!

    • Dillon,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I did try to get readers to understand what STEM is all about and how to get teachers to use it in and out of the classroom. These things will help students get prepared for real-world problems.


  5. Katin,
    I really loved the way you summarized this journal article! You gave your audience a great resource to refer to without having to re-read the entire journal article.
    I also loved the topic you chose. I think STEM is such an important thing for teacher to know about! It is an increasingly important topic and will require a lot of teachers’ time and energy in the future.
    Do you have any ways that you are planning on implementing STEM into your future classroom?

    • Shay,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I agree that STEM is important for teachers to implement into the classroom. The future is going to have many jobs revolved around STEM, so it is important to get students interested! In my future classroom, I would like to steer away from cookbook labs and create labs that are interesting to students. I would also like to use the students’ prior knowledge and experiences to connect the lesson to their lives. This will help them stay engaged!


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