PA STEM Toolkit

The STEM Toolkit Workgroup will identify and/or design, review, and curate integrated K-12 STEM lessons that are coherent with the Pennsylvania Department of Education's vision, mission, and belief structure for STEM Education. Partners: Montgomery County IU, Tuscarora Intermediate Unit, Berks county Intermediate Unit, Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit, Intermediate Unit 1, Lincoln Intermediate Unit, Schuylkill Intermediate Unit, Central Intermediate Unit, Pennsylvania Teachers Advisory Committee, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network Priorities: Diversify and increase the number of Pennsylvania Educators prepared to provide effective STEM Education for every learner. Diversify and increase the number of Pennsylvania students engaged in STEM experiences.
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All resources in PA STEM Toolkit

Raystown Lake UBD

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Students will learn about the water cycle, watersheds, and point and non-point source pollution. Students will then apply this knowledge to take a position in the debate about the proposed development at Hawn's Bridge Peninsula at Raystown Lake and write a letter to the editor expressing their opinion.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Module

Author: Lorenn Schouppe-Wright

Amusement Park Ride: Ups and Downs in Design

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Students design, build and test model roller coasters using foam tubing. The design process integrates energy concepts as they test and evaluate designs that address the task as an engineer would. The goal is for students to understand the basics of engineering design associated with kinetic and potential energy to build an optimal roller coaster. The marble starts with potential energy that is converted to kinetic energy as it moves along the track. The diameter of the loops that the marble traverses without falling out depends on the kinetic energy obtained by the marble.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: C. Shade, Marthy Cyr

Android App Development

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Students develop an app for an Android device that utilizes its built-in internal sensors, specifically the accelerometer. The goal of this activity is to teach programming design and skills using MIT's App Inventor software (free to download from the Internet) as the vehicle for learning. The activity should be exciting for students who are interested in applying what they learn to writing other applications for Android devices. Students learn the steps of the engineering design process as they identify the problem, develop solutions, select and implement a possible solution, test the solution and redesign, as needed, to accomplish the design requirements.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Brian Sandall, Scott Burns

Angular Velocity: Sweet Wheels

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Students analyze the relationship between wheel radius, linear velocity and angular velocity by using LEGO(TM) MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT robots. Given various robots with different wheel sizes and fixed motor speeds, they predict which has the fastest linear velocity. Then student teams collect and graph data to analyze the relationships between wheel size and linear velocity and find the angular velocity of the robot given its motor speed. Students explore other ways to increase linear velocity by changing motor speeds, and discuss and evaluate the optimal wheel size and desired linear velocities on vehicles.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: James Muldoon, Jigar Jadav, Kelly Brandon

52 Minute Challenge

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Students get one class period (52 minutes) to find a real problem on campus, document it, develop a solution and prepare a market-based presentation to be peer-reviewed the next day. The main goal of this project is to highlight the importance of collaboration when working under a tight deadline - a common situation in today's working world. This project integrates engineering, design and business concepts and meets learning standards from 9th to 12th grade.

Material Type: Assessment, Interactive, Lecture, Lesson Plan, Simulation, Teaching/Learning Strategy

Random Shakespearean Insult Generator Lesson

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This lesson integrates coding and computer science into English Language Arts for the purpose of fostering appreciation of Shakespearean wit and language and to provide students exposure to coding. Students first choose words that carry insulting connotations from a Shakespearean play and then create a program that randomly generates insults based upon those found words. Swift Playgrounds, Scratch, or Raspberry Pi are recommended resources for creating this project, and links to projects are provided for each of these platforms. Sample code and directions are provided. Students who are beginning to learn coding may complete the code while more advanced individuals may modify the program or create their own.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan

Author: Chris Barnabei

Catapult Challenge

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This is a really fun and informative lesson that I do with my high school Programming/technology class to break up the monotony of beginner programming. However; this lesson can be used and applied in essentially any class and for many purposes, and to address many areas. One of the other really nice things about this lesson is that it can be extended to hit many points including physics, math, and advanced engineering. Throughout the building period, I would present teams with a challenge (puzzle, build, etc…) and the first team to complete it would get a prize. It could be more modification time, extra materials, etc…) The materials (including hot glue guns) can be purchased at Wal Mart or a similar store for around $20-25, if ordering through your district isn’t an option. With those purchases, it gives you a lot more materials than needed which can be used for additional similar projects.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Timothy Barnes

Design Step 1: Identify the Need

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Students practice the initial steps involved in an engineering design challenge. They begin by reviewing the steps of the engineering design loop and discussing the client need for the project. Next, they identify a relevant context, define the problem within their design teams, and examine the project's requirements and constraints. (Note: Conduct this activity in the context of a design project that students are working on, which could be a challenge determined by the teacher, brainstormed with the class, or the example project challenge provided [to design a prosthetic arm that can perform a mechanical function].)

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Denise W. Carlson, Lauren Cooper, Malinda Schaefer Zarske

Teach Design: Build to Think

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Build to Think and its corresponding worksheet are intended to help learners solve problems visually and tangibly. This tool can be utilized to prototype anything from life challenges to project challenges. It demonstrates the value of stepping back and gaining a new perspective as participants navigate their work/life's biggest challenges, and also, how asking helpful questions and paying attention to the right things will help them see more clearly and take next steps with greater confidence.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Experience Institute

Using Microcontrollers to Model Homeostasis

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Students learn about homeostasis and create models by constructing simple feedback systems using Arduino boards, temperature sensors, LEDs and Arduino code. Starting with pre-written code, students instruct LEDs to activate in response to the sensor detecting a certain temperature range. They determine appropriate temperature ranges and alter the code accordingly. When the temperature range is exceeded, a fan is engaged in order to achieve a cooling effect. In this way, the principle of homeostasis is demonstrated. To conclude, students write summary paragraphs relating their models to biological homeostasis.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Aaron Lamplugh

Augmented Reality and Parabola Challenge

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This is a challenge based activity in which students use augmented reality and trial and error in order to determine how changes to a quadratic equation affect the shape of a parabola. Students use the Geogebra AR app to manipulate equations and change the parabola to fit around a physical object.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan

Author: Chris Barnabei

Mini Car Design Challenge

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This engineering design challenge is a great hands-on activity that utilizes the engineering design process, 3D modeling, and 3D printing technology. The challenge can be completed individually or in groups of 2 to 3. Students will work to complete the following challenge: Using the design process, design, document, model, and produce a toy car with interchangeable parts.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan

Author: Zach Potter

Hoop Shoot Challenge

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Design and engineer a mechanical device that is powered by hydraulic (syringe and water) that includes levers and moving parts that will propel a ping pong ball to complete the 2 levels of the “Hoop Shoot Challenge”.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Unit of Study

Author: Rick Zilla