Julie Brunner brings her experience in teaching, coaching, curriculum development, and non-profit management to her position as a Professional Learning Specialist with IXL. She has worked with students from pre-K through college and is passionate about promoting science and STEAM education both in and out of the classroom.
As teachers, we’ve probably all heard the question, “When am I ever going to use this in the real world?” from students when teaching STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) subjects in the classroom.
And it’s not hard to see why: When the Pythagorean theorem or chemical equations are presented simply as homework problems, these topics can seem arbitrary to learners. To actively engage your class in STEAM, it’s helpful to teach these topics in conjunction with their applications in the real world.
The purpose of STEM and STEAM education is exactly that. These two approaches to learning and teaching emphasize real-world learning and problem solving, encouraging students to develop critical thinking and creativity skills relevant to their daily lives.
Want to help students learn how to use their learning to solve problems outside the classroom? Keep on reading to see how IXL can support you in making learning “real” for your students!
Activities and IXL skills for STEM learning
In STEM education, it’s important to provide students with opportunities to explore problems and formulate their findings from different angles and perspectives. These recommended IXL skills give learners the tools they need to excel at applying these methods to any content area. This allows students to select the topic of their choice and truly dive into relevant and engaging learning. Check out the ideas below to get started!
When starting a STEM unit or activity, students should first ask a question. Questions are what drive innovation and discovery! Developing questioning skills is a great way to instill a sense of problem-solving and ownership over learning.
A question can come from:
- A phenomenon (check out The Wonder of Science Phenomena and NGSS Phenomena)
- Your NGSS Standards (NGSS Core Ideas and Essential Questions)
- Results from an experiment (check out Science Buddies for ideas)
- Something they have experienced at home, in their community, or in another class
Learners can practice identifying questions using these IXL scientific and engineering practices skills:
- Identify the experimental question: 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade
- Identify questions that can be investigated using a set of materials: 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade
Learn science and engineering practices
Once students have identified a question or problem, it is important to provide them with opportunities to explore this problem and formulate their findings from different angles and perspectives.
- IXL’s engineering-design skills can help learners understand real-world applications and practice identifying solutions to problems. These skills are great for supporting any STEM, science, or engineering activity! Try using them in conjunction with some engineering favorites below:
Build science literacy and practice reading non-fiction texts
Being able to understand and communicate scientific knowledge is an important skill. Improving students’ literacy also allows them to develop their understanding and questioning skills in science and other subject areas.
- IXL’s science literacy skills will help your students learn to read and evaluate nonfiction texts, tables, and diagrams for a variety of topics. These can help build the knowledge they need to gather evidence on any topic!
- Additionally, try some of these language arts skills focused on identifying the main idea and identifying supporting details in informational texts. These skills are especially helpful as learners begin to explore nonfiction texts!
- Or use these global studies skills to encourage students to explore and investigate different areas of the world. The skills also incorporate primary and secondary sources to help them practice identifying strong evidence.
Gather and interpret data
Before you begin gathering data for an investigation, let students practice reading different measuring tools or calculating units using IXL’s units and measurement skills. Learners can then practice interpreting and sharing data through IXL skills on tables and graphing.
There are many ways that scientists, engineers, and your learners can communicate their findings! Try having students explore different ways to share their results, including writing essays or lab reports, and creating models, videos, art pieces, and more!
Activities and IXL skills for STEAM learning
Looking for ways to include the arts and humanities? We’ve got you covered!
Incorporating art and culture into your STEAM curriculum is an incredible way to make your lessons “stick” and expose students to different modalities of learning. Here are some ideas for pairing STEAM learning activities with IXL skills:
Adaptation, genetics, or ecosystem
During your genetics or ecosystem units, have learners explore pictures from John J. Audubon’s Birds of America collection. Then have them practice some of these IXL skills:
Plant parts and functions
Pair IXL’s plant parts and functions skills with one or more of these activities to reinforce student understanding:
- Explore or visit the Glass Flowers: The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants
- Try some hands-on activities from the National Science Teachers Association
- Create stained glass flower models using contact paper and flowers or tissue paper
When exploring and learning about sound waves, try taking a field trip to visit a local musical performance, or watch one virtually. Then, have students create their own musical instruments using materials they can find around the house or at school. Pair these activities with IXL’s waves skills to support their scientific understanding.
During your chemistry unit, engage learners by watching a baking competition show and discussing the chemistry of baking. Then, have them bake their own creations and communicate the chemical processes. Students can further explore chemical changes and reactions with IXL chemical changes and reaction skills.
Are you feeling inspired to incorporate IXL and STEAM learning into your classroom? Share your favorite ideas with us on social media!