Gearing Up for STEM in the Classroom | Toronto Teacher Mom

Gearing Up for STEM in the Classroom

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Gearing Up for STEM in the Classroom with Staples Business Advantage

In the world of education, there is an ever-growing emphasis on the important role of STEM in the classroom that correlates with the need to develop 21st century competencies among our students. Critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration skills are seen as fundamental for students as they learn to apply core skills and begin to prepare to enter the workforce. Recognizing this need, a growing number of schools and educational facilities are providing more hands-on STEM-based learning opportunities to prepare students for the future. And to help find the right STEM school supplies, they can now turn to Staples Business Advantage.

What is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and has more recently grown to include the Arts (STEAM). It is a cross-curricular approach to teaching and learning that, as defined by Bonnie Schmidt, "includes a diverse set of 21st century skills and characteristics — ways of thinking about (and solving) the problems that we all face as global citizens." 

When I think of STEM, I think of project-based, inquiry-based and even game-based learning. I think of makerspaces, flexible classrooms, design thinking, digital portfolios, innovation and problem-solving. I also think of augmented and virtual reality, robotics, 3D printing, and programming, among others. Bundle all of these elements together and you have a recipe for encouraging youth to pursue STEM studies and empowering them with the skill set they will need for their future.

Stock up on STEM Supplies

Gearing up for STEM in the classroom can be somewhat overwhelming. Luckily, Staples Business Advantage has experts on hand to help guide you towards the tools and supplies that are best suited for your needs. One thing to consider is whether there is a need for a central makerspace that will act as a STEM storage hub for the school or if it would be better to outfit each classroom with a standard STEM toolkit. A more affordable option could be to create a mobile makerspace on wheels. Whichever is best suited for your school's goals and budget, here is a list of suggested materials and STEM toys to get started:

Art and Writing Supplies

As part of the design process, students will need ready access to materials for brainstorming, collaborative design, modelling and creating iterations of their designs, many of which are already found in the classroom.
  • adhesives (glues such as craft, wood or hot glue, tape such as duct or electrical tape)
  • paper (printer paper, construction paper, card stock, aluminum foil)
  • craft supplies (pipe cleaners, yarn, craft sticks, fabrics)
  • modelling clay or plasticine
  • colouring supplies (crayons, markers, paints and brushes)
  • craft scissors and hole punches
  • dry erase supplies (whiteboard markers, dry erase paint, mini whiteboards, adhesive dry erase surface)

Recyclable Materials

Found objects that students can bring in from home, such as repurposed items or recyclables, are a quick an easy solution for these handy consumables. 
  • plastics (containers, lids, bottles)
  • cardboard boxes
  • paper towel rolls
  • egg cartons
  • milk cartons
  • styrofoam

Construction Materials

  • interlocking bricks
  • magnetic construction kits 
  • wooden blocks
  • paper cups
  • pipe cleaners
  • string
  • rubber bands
  • fasteners

STEM Toys

  • educational robots, such as Jade Robot, a fully assembled robot manufactured in Canada with sophisticated applications and sensor inputs
  • modular robots, such as Krypton 5 that comes with over 780 components, including sensors, motors and a Powerful Brain, allowing for infinite design opportunities
  • app-enabled robots, such as JIMU Robot TankBot that connects to mobile devices via Bluetooth, allowing students to program using block coding
  • floor robots, which can be programmed by pressing buttons on the toy itself, without the need for a separate device
  • AR robots, such as STAR WARS First Order Stormtrooper Robot that will not only engage fans of the sci-fi series but also wow them with a cutting-edge AR experience, voice command capability, and even facial recognition  
  • invention kits, such as littleBits STEAM Education Packs and Gizmos & Gadgets Kits, designed to unleash creativity with easy-to-assemble Bits and spark imagination with additional inventor kits such as the littleBits Droid Inventor Kit
In addition to determining the materials and tools you will need, you can explore organization and storage ideas, as well as collaborative and flexible furniture solutions. Learn more about how Staples Business Advantage can help by visiting their website.

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Staples Buisness Advantage. Any opinions expressed therein are my own.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. We incorporate STEM every day in our lives at home with our girls and as well at Girl Guides (Pathfinders and Guides).

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