Interactive STEM lessons: engage learners with these 25 ready-to-use lesson ideas

This blog post is all about “STEM”. I guess you’ve already heard about STEM and know the meaning of the acronym (if not, you’re about to discover it), but what exactly is it? A buzzword or a sustainable concept? What is the importance of STEM education in today’s society? And most importantly, how can teachers boost their STEM lessons with digital learning tools? In this blog post, we not only answer those questions, but we also give you 25 ready-to-use lesson ideas for STEM lessons.

Are you a STEM or science teacher and planning to go to the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in New Orleans? Don’t miss the session on “Bookwidgets for Science and Engineering Practices” by BookWidgets Ambassador Samuel Caraballo on Monday, January 23, 2023: 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM.

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What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is therefore a broad collection of domains with a common denominator: they are all oriented around problem-solving with the use of technology and addressing the challenges and issues our society faces. Because STEM is so broad, it encompasses a wide range of skills. It’s impossible to master all these skills, so collaboration is a key asset for people working in the STEM field.

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Why is STEM important?

We live in a ever changing world with new issues and challenges like climate change, power supply, and overpopulation. Our society needs problem solvers ready to face these 21st-century challenges. Even for those not working directly in the STEM field, solution-oriented thinking, analyzing and interpreting data, purposeful use of technology, and collaboration are essential life skills.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), “nearly 3.5 million STEM jobs need to be staffed by 2025” in the US only.

The list of jobs in the STEM field is long and varied. Think of software developers, engineers, computer systems administrators, geoscientists, epidemiologists, database administrators, biochemists, statisticians, …

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STEM in Education

Considering the growing importance of STEM profiles to our society, it is important to introduce children to STEM at an early age and to trigger an interest in science-themed topics. Once the interest is generated, learners will get intrinsically motivated to develop further in the domain.

In this perspective, attention to diversity is key. All students should have equal opportunities to develop and pursue STEM interests, regardless of background or gender. Society’s diversity must be reflected in the STEM profiles of the future. Today, certain groups of society are clearly underrepresented in STEM jobs.

Furthermore, critical thinking, data visualization, analysis and interpretation, and collaboration skills are more important than ever. They thus should be integrated into today’s lesson programs. In addition, the connections between separate school subjects such as biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, … become essential because professionals from these fields also need to work together on solutions for today’s challenges.

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What is the best tool to create interactive content for your STEM lessons?

As a STEM teacher, you probably want to lead by example and integrate modern technology into your lessons. Within the vast array of digital teaching software, you’ll want to choose your tools wisely. You probably also want to limit the number of EdTech tools, because using too many tools can be overwhelming for students.

I’m convinced that BookWidgets is an excellent tool for providing digital interactive content with your STEM lessons. Here’s why:

  • Are you looking for an all-in-one tool? BookWidgets offers a library of 40+ different widget types, most of which will add value to your STEM classes (see examples below).
  • Are you looking for a tool that’s adapted to the specific needs of STEM lessons? BookWidgets offers numerous practical features e.g., an integrated scientific calculator, the ability to write scientific characters (with LaTeX or via Word Import), the equations question type where students easily answer with scientific symbols, the Whiteboard and Annotate picture activities, a scratchpad to take notes …
  • Do you want to create an activity based on a YouTube video, a PDF file, a podcast, or interactive content from GeoGebra or PhET? Embedding third-party applications in BookWidgets is a piece of cake!
  • Save time grading! Most of the 35+ question types in BookWidgets are auto-graded.
  • Does your school use a Learning Management System (LMS) like Google Classroom, MS Teams, Canvas, Schoology, Moodle … ? BookWidgets allows a smooth integration in the most used LMSs.
  • Do you want to collaborate with direct colleagues and/or STEM teachers worldwide? BookWidgets allows sharing of content between teachers in collaborative groups.

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25 ready-to-use lesson ideas for STEM lessons

In the next section of this blog post, you’ll find 25 ready-to-use lesson ideas for STEM lessons. I classified them into seven components of STEM lessons. The subject, widget type, and Main learning objectives are mentioned for every lesson example.

Specials thanks to BookWidgets Ambassadors Wesly Raymaekers (STEM teacher) and Samuel Caraballo (Science teacher) who created many of the presented examples 🙌

Here’s an overview of the selected components (click on one of them to navigate directly to that part of the blog post):

  1. 👁 Visualize technical concepts or objects
  2. 📈 Master graphs
  3. 🟰 Practice equations
  4. 🔠 Study and practice STEM-related vocabulary
  5. 📖 Develop Scientific literacy
  6. 🕚 Work self-paced
  7. 🧪 Conduct science experiments

Do you want to use some STEM lesson examples from this blog post? You’ll find them in this BookWidgets group.

👁 Visualize technical concepts or objects

“Visualizing information can give us a very quick solution to problems. We can get clarity or the answer to a simple problem very quickly.” - David McCandless, British data journalist, writer, and information designer.

Whether it is technical drawings, scientific concepts, chemical elements, or mathematical proofs, information is easier to understand when visualized. Fortunately, STEM teachers have plenty of engaging resources available today, such as Google Maps, Google Earth, YouTube, and even TikTok. All of these source materials can be easily integrated into BookWidgets to create interactive online lesson content, as the below examples show.

1. Study the effect of a tsunami using satellite images

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Geography
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Before & after widget
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Compare and analyze images, Learn about tsunamis

STEM interactive activity Before & after geography

Click to open

2. Organize your toolbox correctly

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Engineering
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Hotspot image
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Organize and respect materials, using the correct vocabulary for every tool

STEM interactive activity Hotspot image engineering

Click to open

3. Study the design of an object

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Engineering
  • ⚙️ Widget type: 3D Widget
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: analyze a 3D image

STEM interactive activity 3D widget Engineering

Click to open

4. Interactive Periodic table of elements (with videos for each element)

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Chemistry
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Hotspot image
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Discover the different elements of the periodic table and their characteristics
  • ℹ️ Additional information: All the videos in this widget are from the great “Periodic Videos” YouTube channel.

STEM interactive activity Hotspot image Chemistry

Click to open

5. Centrifugal force experiment (with TikTok video)

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Physics
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Split worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: The concept and the formula of centrifugal force
  • ℹ️ Additional information: Learn more on using TikTok in your lessons in this blog post.

STEM interactive activity Split worksheet Physics

Click to open

📈 Master graphs

The COVID period has shown how useful and relevant graphs are for visualizing data. Whether it was about contaminations, hospitalizations, deaths, or vaccinations… the graphs showed how we were doing and it was essential for any citizen to understand them. After all, we had to work together in order to flatten the curve. The following examples show different ways of learning to understand and create graphs.

6. Flattening the curve

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology, Statistics
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Naming the different elements of a graph in order to interpret it’s information

STEM interactive activity Biology Statistics Flattening the curve

Click to open

7. World population growth

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Mathematics, Statistics, Geography
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Active plot
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Select specific information from a table and transform it to coordinates, connect the different coordinates in order to visualize the evolution in a graph

STEM interactive activity Active plot statistics

Click to open

8. Supply and demand (with integrated Excel online file)

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Economics
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Split whiteboard
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Select specific information from a table and transform it in a graph, naming the different elements of the graph, finding the price equilibrium
  • ℹ️ Additional information: Learn more on integrating spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets) in BookWidgets in this blog post.

STEM interactive economics supply and demand graph

Click to open

🟰 Practice equations

Equations are an essential part of mathematics. Teachers often continue to practice equations on paper because the mathematical characters are difficult to write on a keyboard. Good news: BookWidgets has an equations-question type available in the Quiz, Worksheet, and Split Worksheet Widgets. In addition, you can also choose to work with the (split) Whiteboard widget so that students can write out their own equations. Especially if your students have a device with a touch screen, this is an interesting option.

9. Addition of radicals

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Mathematics
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Split Worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Adding radicals
  • ℹ️ Additional information: Learn more on using TikTok in your lessons in this blog post.

STEM interactive activity Split worksheet mathematics

Click to open

10. & 11. The Pythagorean theorem

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Mathematics
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Split Whiteboard
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Understand and apply the Pythagorean theorem, be able to calculate the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle
  • ℹ️ Additional information: Learn more on integrating Geogebra and TikTok in BookWidgets in this blog post.

STEM interactive mathematics Pythagorean theorem

Click to open

STEM interactive mathematics Pythagorean theorem

Click to open

🔠 Study and practice STEM-related vocabulary

Science courses have a language of their own, with a lot of concepts and specific terminology. Students need to master the terminology of STEM courses so that during assignments and experiments, they will be able to communicate correctly and efficiently.

12. Flash cards

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology, Chemistry
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Flash cards
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Study lab equipment related vocabulary

STEM interactive activity Flash Cards biology

Click to open

13. Crossword puzzle

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology, Chemistry
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Crossword puzzle
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Study lab equipement related vocabulary

STEM interactive activity Crossword puzzle biology

Click to open

14. Elements of the Periodic Table

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Chemistry
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Pair matching
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Study the abbreviations of a selection of elements of the Periodic Table

STEM interactive activity Pair matching period table

Click to open

15. The Human Cell

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Hotspot Image
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Discover different elements of the human call

STEM interactive activity Hotspot Image biology

Click to open

16. Anatomy

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Before & after widget
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Study vocabulary related to the anatomy of the human body

STEM interactive activity Before & after Biology

Click to open

📖 Develop Scientific literacy

In times of “Fake News”, it is important that students become accustomed to analyzing reliable sources and selecting and interpreting the correct and relevant information from them. Do you want to share a science article with students and ask them to seek out specific information from it? Then, a BookWidgets’ Split Worksheet is the ideal tool! You place your source material on one side and next to it you add your questions as desired. BookWidgets offers 35+ different question types most of which are automatically corrected.

17. “The next pandemic virus” online news article

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Split worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Reading comprehension, understand how viruses work

STEM interactive activity Reading comprehension biology

Click to open

18. “The poop collector” (Podcast)

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Split worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Listening comprehension, understanding how scientific studies are executed
  • ℹ️ Additional information: Learn more on using Podcasts in the classroom in this blog post.

STEM interactive activity podcast biology

Click to open

🕚 Work self-paced

An important skill for STEM professionals is to be able to work independently and project-based, so it’s a logical choice to introduce this concept in your classroom. With BookWidgets, STEM teachers can easily set up these learning projects and the live feature allows them to follow the student’s progress.

19. Headphone holder

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Engineering
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Split worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Work independently, resolve a problem in different steps

STEM interactive activity Split worksheet engineering

Click to open

20. Law of intensities

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Engineering
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Split worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Work independently, set up a simulation of an electric circuit, understand the law of intensities
  • ℹ️ Additional information: Learn more on integrating PhET Simulations in BookWidgets in this blog post

STEM interactive activity Engineering law of intensities

Click to open

21. Macromolecules Sort Activity

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Work independently, discover how macromolecules work

STEM interactive activity Worksheet geography

Click to open

22. Evidence of Evolution

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Webquest
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Work independently, discover the Evolution Theory

STEM interactive activity biology webquest

Click to open

🧪 Conduct science experiments

Theoretical concepts are important, but for students, science subjects really come alive when they get to do an experiment. Here they train important skills such as working in an organized way, following safety rules, cooperating, hypothesizing, reporting, analyzing … BookWidgets can offer added value in this area in various ways, e.g. via a Checklist or Planner with which students learn to work step by step. When certain experiments cannot be performed in practice, there are often virtual solutions. These can also be perfectly integrated into widgets.

23. Science lab - Baking powder and vinegar

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Chemistry
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Quiz
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Conduct a science experiment, analyze the reaction of baking powder and vinegar

STEM interactive activity Chemistry science lab

Click to open

24. Chemical reactions with compound substances

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Chemistry
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Conduct a science experiment, analyze the reaction of milk and cola

STEM interactive activity Chemistry science lab

Click to open

25. Koi Fish Weblab

  • 👩‍🏫 Subject: Biology
  • ⚙️ Widget type: Worksheet
  • 🎯 Main learning objectives: Conduct a (virtual) science experiment, identify the two main types of genetic drift

STEM interactive activity Biology science lab

Click to open

Wrap up

In our ever changing society, we need problem solvers, ready to face the world’s biggest challenges. With a dose of STEM skills, today’s students will be prepared for the future. Learning these skills starts with curiosity, motivation, and engagement. When students are taught by a passionate STEM teacher, they are more likely to develop an interest in the STEM domain themselves. In addition, engaging lesson content will definitely fuel the students’ motivation.

In this blog post, I presented 25 examples of interactive STEM lessons created with BookWidgets. Do you want to use the examples from this blog post in your lessons? You’ll find them in this BookWidgets group.

Do you already use BookWidgets in your STEM lessons or are you planning to do so? I hope I gave you some new ideas that might inspire you. Which of these ideas is your favorite? Let us know on Twitter! - @ibookwidgets

Or share your own STEM widgets in our Teaching with BookWidgets Facebook group so that in turn, you can inspire others!

Follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn!

And don’t forget…

“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why”. - Bernard Baruch

So if you have any questions on BookWidgets, never hesitate to send us an email!

Dimitri Bongers

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