STEM education provides many opportunities and challenges. How can our practice evolve to meet the needs of 21st-century learners?

STEM Resources

Eric Brunsell Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

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curriculum and projects learning centers

Engineering of Everyday Things -- A Lesson Plan by Allen Berg

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howdy Engineers and Imagineers

This is the 3rd page is my series about Engineering Curriculum Resources

The Engineering of Everyday Things: Structure and Function
---The Analysis of a Whole and its Parts.

Lesson Plan by Allen Berg

[Photograph of a ball point pen disassembled: the clear plastic tube of ink, the small inner spring, and the 2 parts of the outer casing with their molded screw connection. ]

I am not incurious;
I like to look at things, care-fully
and understand how they work.

Observation and then description
are important tools of Science.

As you can see from the picture of the pen above,
Things have parts that make up the whole.

In this lesson, you will choose an object
and analyze its structure and function.

1. Name and define the object. (You can check a dictionary.)
The definition of an object is often its purpose.

2. Draw a picture of the object as a whole and as its separate parts.
2a. Take digital photographs of the object as a whole and of its various parts.
2b. Advanced students can use free 3-D software to produce computer-generated 3-Dimensional images. (Google’s “Sketch-Up” etc.)

3. Label each part.
Describe the material each part is made of.

4. Explain the function of each part and how it is related to the
whole object.

5. Look close-up and carefully at the object to find the name of the
country where it is made.

6. Evaluate the object:
a. Does it do the job it is supposed to do?
Rate its performance: poor__ ok__ good__ excellent__ etc.
b. What is the object’s durability?
How long does it last? Can you repair or replace the parts
or do you just throw it away?
c. What is its cost? Is this a “fair value”?
d. Would you recommend using this object? Why or why not?
e. Can you suggest improvements in its design?
List and explain your suggestions.
Provide a visual image(s) of your improved design.

7. Conclusion:
How does this object compare to similar objects, for use?

[Example of an “improved design”: the addition of a soft rubbery fingers grip… Photograph of the “improved” pen]

8. Share your Analysis with other students, family, and friends…
Be proud that you are a Beginning Engineer…

curriculum and projects learning centers

National Geographic magazine online STEM

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Hi Don Morgan: Technology and Engineering Colleague,

I am new to this group and a computer newbie, so I will have to make several postings to include the several "Engineering" resources available online... I agree totally with you concerning the real everyday experience we all have with "Engineering" and its products etc. First I am going to post a link to the current edition of National Geographic magazine: (November 2010)their
"Big Idea / Innovation" section (published every month):
"Big Ideas - Little Packages" pages 24-31.

This is a brief very visually effective 5-page spread about current engineering projects, that are included in the Smithsonian
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum exhibition from 2007:
"Design for the Other 90%" (and currently wonderfully permanently online! --that will be my second post, because I do not yet know how to copy & paste more than one hyper-link at this forum format ...but I will learn... :-)

btw: if you read about the Water Purifying Straw, called "LifeStraw", and go to their website:

They list the Maufacturer of the product, which is a Professional European Engineering Firm, and if you click on their link for the English version "Bochure" of their product you can download the Adobe file --which I highly recommend -- because it is a real-life Professional Engineering Product Description and Social Environmental Impact Report/Evaluation Example for students to read and view and learn about Engineering "Best Practices" including: graphics, technical writing, research data, tables, scientific journal references,etc.


Then after the second link, I will post my one-page lesson/project outline for "The Engineering of Everyday Things: Structure and Function
-- The Anaysis of a Whole and its Parts"

Then there are a couple of pages of Teacher Resource Lists of
"Compare and Contrast Everyday Things" (Objects)

such as:
1. pencil vs. pen
2. flashlight vs. desk lamp
3. paper clip vs. stapler
4. ladder vs. staircase
5. nail clipper vs. Swiss army knife
6. child's bicycle vs. multi-gear bike
7. landline phone/home phone vs. cell phone


Then there cool books (CoolStuff and CoolStuff 2.0 etc.)
then there are cool website links...
then there are my arts & crafts 3-D geometry sculptures projects
and papermodel crafting websites etc.
to be continued...

I appreciate your collegial collaboration

Allen Berg

curriculum and projects learning centers

National Geographic Magazine Online STEM (continued)

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Hi Don and other colleagues:

as promised here is the second link to a fantastic Engineering website:
"Design for the Other 90%" sponsored by the aforementioned Smithsonian
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum:

Coincidentally, the Museum just concluded a second in this series of exhibitions: "Design for the Other 90%" (it ended in September, 2010...) but I could not find any online links to their collection...
I guess that is still a work-in-progress...

ps: if you go to the National Geographic current link for Big Ideas -
Little Packages and read carefully the one paragraph about the "Infant Warmer", you will find a website link called:

Which I higly recommend because they have a fantastic diagrammatic
explanation of the "Analysis of the Whole and its Parts" of their product... including a new fabric technology (called something like a
"Phase Sensor Textile"

Sincerely yours,

Allen Berg

ps 2: and the "Asthma Device" in the article is made from
"folded paper" !!! at 1/20th the cost of conventional Asthma Devices:
one dollar from paper vs twenty dollars for the other conventional product...


Regional instructional technology facilitator

My STEM Site

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I am a regional instructional technology facilitator in Louisiana and have created a Google site with STEM resources for use by educators and others in my region. since I appreciate all of the resources which Edutopia so generously has made available, I felt like I should share it with others here. As you will see, the site is a clean site with no clutter, just resources. Please feel free to use and share this resource with others if you feel it is worthy.
Region VI TLTC

Regional instructional technology facilitator

Google STEM Site

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I appreciate Edutopia's free sharing of resources, so I thought I would humbly share the STEM site I have created on a Google site. Feel free to use and share if you think it is worthy. I am not posting this as a hyperlink.

Regional instructional technology facilitator

My Google STEM Site

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Since I appreciate Edutopia's free sharing of so many great resources, I thought I would make a small contribution by posting a link to my STEM site. Please feel free to use and share this resource as you see fit.
Region VI TLTC

Biology teacher

Science teacher

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These sites provide many resources for teachers of environmental or earth science. They also offer professional development free.
The NSTA Learning Center has a lot of free lessons for teachers grouped by age and subject in science. Director, Prof Arch/EnvDes, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Changing STEM to STEEAM

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First of all, thank you for all of these great free resources. I'd like to share another, the eco web of ( offers a linked network of activities across nine scales-nano, pattern, object, space, architecture, neighborhood, urban, region and world that connect design of the built world (STEM) with the environment and human culture (STEEAM).

The lack of design education in the K-12 population is distancing design opportunities in what many are calling the design economy. Canada and the United Kingdom have been mandating K12 design education since 1995, yet only three states (MI, WI, NJ) have added design standards to their art standards in the US to introduce critical thinking and strategic research and propositional skills. Only 47% of our schools offer visual arts instruction to eighth graders (US Sec. Of Education, Arne Duncan 2009), and art budgets, arguably the most important programs to stimulate imagination, are first to be cut. K12 design education, declared basically non-existent in the US (Meredith Davis 1998), can assist STEM learning by changing it to STEEAM. STEEAM learning champions creativity and responsibility by adding art and environment to science, technology, engineering and math. It offers ethical and propositional thinking to the mix in rethinking how the built world impacts the environmental world. Victor Margolin calls it the Ecology of the Artificial. introduces TOOLS that scientists, artists, engineers, architects, designers and environmentalists use to observe, engage and envision new relationships in the world. LANGUAGE journeys introduce systems of ideas such as climate, pattern, shelter, energy, and geometry. DISCOVERY journeys introduce the complexities of multiple interactions between systems such as buildings and nature and buildings and bodies. DESIGN journeys offer challenges to rethink, re-envision, and re-proposition humans’ relationship with their surroundings. Each journey is linked to science institutions, museums, free interactive programs and contemporary art and design and science practices.

Teachers and students use thematically (art/design/environment), activity based (research/writing/visualizing/modeling), as traditional curriculum (language arts/social studies/science/math/health), or randomly individualizing informal STEEAM learning. Schools use eco web learning journeys for enrichment clubs, after school programs, weekly homeroom sessions, career introduction, special academies and design curriculum in the classroom and community.

Most certainly project based STEM works fluidly across technologies. STEEAM learning learning motivates individual interests and expression and experimentation.

Start a journey today!

Do your brown bag activities

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Do your brown bag activities come from the Girl Scout books? I love the idea of making them available to the kids to take home and using the PTA to put them together.

museum naturalist and science educator

curriculum development at National Geographic

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Danny Edelson at NGS has laid out the intellectual framework they will be employing in revamping their K-12 offerings in a column you can view at I think Danny would be glad to hear from everyone with regard to their needs and views on STEM curriculum development, so that NGS becomes the best resource possible for classroom teachers.

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