STEM in the Science Classroom

What is STEM?

As a teacher and as a student, I hear the word STEM thrown around all the time. No, not the green part of a flower that holds it up. STEM is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The goal of STEM activities and lessons are to connect those four topics in an engaging and applied way. Watch the video below for a short explanation on STEM Eduction!

In the Classroom:

Now that you know why STEM is important to integrate into the classroom, read below on one way how you can incorporate STEM into your classroom!


  • In order to get them thinking about density and how it applies to the real world, start with a demo
    • gets them engaged and interested about the information they are learning
  • Demo- present students with a plethora of different substances like water, dish soap, honey, milk, and rubbing alcohol and ask the students to write down what they think will happen when you pour each of them in
    • After they are done, pour each substance in and have the students write down their observations and compare them to their initial thoughts
    • Ask students questions like “why is honey below water but rubbing alcohol above water?”


  • STEM activity!!
    • Students get into groups of 4-5 at their lab tables and are given materials like sponges, cotton balls, and straws
    • Each group has their own “oil spill” which is just water and oil mixed together in a tray and they must plan out a way to clean up the oil spill before they start using their materials
      • make sure each student is contributing ideas in each group and that each group is coming up with a rationale behind their thinking, even if you know it might not work
    • After the students plan it out they may begin cleaning up the oil, making adjustments to their original plan as needed! When they run into a problem, have them write it down and also write down their solution or modification
    • Have all students write down what did work, what didn’t work, and their overall observations and ask them to share those with the class
    • Ask why it is possible to clean up the oil from the water and how the oil and the water are interacting with each other


  • Have students define density and hydrophobic interactions
    • First, in their small groups that they did the “explore” activity in and then come together as a whole class and define it together
  • Explain density further and highlight the importance of it without becoming lecture heavy
  •  Show students a video and/or pictures that highlight how large an oil spill can be and what it looks like in general (see video below for example)


  • now that they know more about density and hydrophobic substances, the same groups from explore can research different oil spills in history and the different ways that experts tried to clean them up
    • after researching what the experts did, have them brainstorm different ideas or explain why the experts efforts did or did not work in terms of density and hydrophobic substances
    • can create a powerpoint, paper, or visual project to help them present their information to the class


  • Day of the lesson
    • could give an exit slip having them define or explain density and hydrophobic substances in their own words
  • After lesson is concluded
    • have them present their elaborate projects to the rest of the class and assess them on their ability to communicate their findings based on what they learned about density and hydrophobic substances
  • After chapter is concluded
    • larger summative assessment that ties in hydrophilic substances and other chemical properties

Now that you have an idea of what STEM is and how it can be implemented in your classroom, I hope you find a way to instill a passion for STEM in your own students!

References: (2018). Oil Spill! Connecting STEM activities to real world problems. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Oct. 2018].


  1. Awesome post Claire! I really like your idea for introducing the concept of density and hydrophobicity and then going into the STEM activity! It seems like a lot of fun and I’m sure the students would enjoy it. In the elaborate you have them able to make some sort of presentation for their research, so my question is if you think that they would be able to do a more engaging/immersive presentation rather than just doing a powerpoint, or do you think that a powerpoint would be the most beneficial to students?

    • Thank you Bryce! I think most students are capable of doing a more engaging presentation rather than just a powerpoint, but I feel that some students, and just people in general, feel more comfortable when doing a powerpoint presentation. Some students get really anxious when giving presentations so I would give them an option to do something more in their comfort zone so that they could really focus on the oral part of the presentation, instead of feeling overwhelmed.

  2. Claire, I really enjoyed this blog post. I also liked that you incorporated a video that gave all the viewers of the blog an overview about what STEM is and how it can be used in the classroom. I also really enjoyed the engage for the lesson and I believe that the students will be really engaged with the demo. I also like how you used products that students have used before rather than just different chemicals. The STEM activity in the explore is such a great idea. I love how it is based around an oil spill (since this happens). I also like that students will be the ones to decide how the oil spill should be cleaned. This allows for them to use their creativity which is very important. I also like the explore and elaborate that was used in this learning cycle. For the evaluate do you think you could evaluate something other than a presentation, such as a paper-based explanation of their findings? Overall great post!

    • Thanks, Bailey! I think with this lesson you could evaluate the students in so many different ways, but felt that a written and oral presentation was best. This gives students an opportunity to teach their classmates what they learned, and teaching is the best way to learn something. In my high school experience I feel like I was bombarded with written tests and papers, rather than creative projects and I would like to give my students an opportunity to do something different and exciting to show their knowledge!

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