STEM Labs are designed to be the online teacher’s manual for VEX 123. Like a printed teacher’s manual, the teacher-facing content of the STEM Labs provides all of the resources, materials, and information needed to be able to plan, teach, and assess with VEX 123. Students see the Lab Image Slideshows as their teacher facilitates the Lab, while the teacher has all the discussion prompts, activity steps, and facilitation strategies at their fingertips.
To plan, teachers can read and review the concepts, activities, facilitation strategies, and discussion prompts for the STEM Lab. To teach, teachers can make the materials their own - presenting the concepts as they facilitate the Lab activities and conversations, and using the Lab Image Slideshows as the student-facing companion throughout the Lab. To assess, strategies are offered in the STEM Labs as well, for teachers to use at their discretion.
STEM Labs are the toolbox for teachers to pull from, as they bring STEM learning to life in their classrooms.
Every STEM Lab has a common structure that should make it easy to find what you need. Planning for a STEM Lab starts by looking at the Goals & Standards section then reviewing the Summary section to get a deeper sense of the activities within the STEM Lab, and how long it might take.
An individual STEM Lab might take approximately 40 minutes in one classroom, while another classroom will choose to complete it over several days. Students may be excited to extend their learning with specific STEM Labs depending on their background with the material, and their personal interests. If you want to extend a STEM Lab further, you can always choose to do the activities from the Choice Board with your class.
Steps to Implement a STEM Lab
- Read the Goals & Standards to see how the objectives, activities, goals, and standards for the STEM Lab are all aligned.
- Read the Summary to see what materials are needed and read a brief overview of the STEM Lab.
- Review the Engage Section to read how you will connect the concepts of the STEM Lab with your students.
- Acts and Asks
- Review the Play Section
- Play Part 1: Review the given prompts to help guide your students through the activity.
- Mid-Play Break: Read the discussion prompts given to help students transition between activities.
- Play Part 2: Review the given prompts to help guide your students through the activity.
- Review the Share Section to see suggestions for making student learning visible and discussion prompts to use with your students.
Goals & Standards
Each STEM Lab begins with student goals and objectives to indicate what the students will be learning by the end of the Lab. These can help to frame the Lab as it is implemented in the classroom. This section of goals, objectives, and standards makes it easy to see what you are teaching and where in the Lab those skills are being taught.
Specific areas of the Lab (Play Part 1, Engage) are mentioned so that it is easy to see the value of each section of the Lab and pinpoint where each activity and assessment is occurring. Begin each STEM Lab by reviewing the Goals & Standards.
Each standard identified has a detailed explanation of where the standard is being met during the Lab. All objectives and activities also align with the identified standards.
A full materials list is available in the summary so that it is easy to gather all needed materials and prepare before beginning the STEM Lab. Each material has a specific purpose and recommendation for how many are needed for the classroom, taking the guesswork out of STEM Lab preparations.
The Environment Setup section provides tips from experienced teachers on how to organize materials and prepare a space for the Lab activities.
The Lab Summary provides a quick overview of each section of the STEM Lab: Engage, Play, and Share. When students start to ask what they are doing next, there’s a quick and easy answer ready to go.
Using the Lab Image Slideshows
Each STEM Lab includes a Lab Image Slideshow, which serves as the student-facing component of the STEM Lab content. Every image in the teacher-facing STEM Labs is included in the Lab Image Slideshow - offering ready-made visual aides, so teachers do not have to make them on their own. The slides can be displayed for students in the classroom, and offer visual context for the conversations, activities, and concepts being taught through the Lab. Teachers move through the slides as they move through the sections of the Lab, using the STEM Lab as reference material for their teaching.
The student-facing materials of STEM Labs are intentionally minimal, as the goal of the STEM Labs is for students to be actively coding, collaborating, and engaging with STEM concepts. VEX 123 is designed to be a hands-on platform, so students are tangibly working to see STEM concepts in action, instead of just reading about them.
Implementing a STEM Lab - Engage
Each step in the STEM Labs is written out to make implementing in your classroom easy! The Engage section explains how to introduce the Lab and help students foster a personal connection with the Lab. Remember, the information in the STEM Lab is a teacher resource, and is meant to be taught from, not directly viewed or projected for student consumption.
To begin, the Acts and Asks section offers prompts for a guided discussion and demonstration to introduce the concepts explored in the Lab. The Acts give ideas for what to do, and the Asks give verbal prompts for what to say inline with each action. (Again, think of this as part of your teacher’s manual, meant to be read to students, not by students.)
The Engage section provides prompts for engaging students further with the Lab concepts and materials. Here you may find guided prompts for conducting an interactive demonstration or to introduce students to materials they will be using in the Lab. Each Engage section follows a consistent format: Instruct, Distribute, Facilitate, and Offer, making it easy to find information when facilitating Engage activities.
Implementing a STEM Lab - Play
Each STEM Lab follows the same format for Play sections, making it simple to introduce to your students and to explain what steps they will follow to complete an activity. Again, this material is meant as a teacher reference and should be used to aid in the facilitation of the Lab activities, not read directly by students.
- Play Part 1: In this section, you will Instruct, Model, Facilitate, Remind, and Ask students. Each prompt has specific instructions so you never have to worry about how you’re going to facilitate a discussion or instruct the students to do something. Utilize these steps as you would those in a traditional teacher’s manual.
- Mid-Play Break: Bring your students back together as a class! Ask students the guided questions provided to check for understanding or to clarify any student questions.
- Play Part 2: In this section, you will Instruct, Model, Facilitate, Remind, and Ask students. Each prompt has specific instructions so you never have to worry about how you’re going to facilitate a discussion or instruct the students to do something. Utilize these steps as you would those in a traditional teacher’s manual.
Implementing a STEM Lab - Share
The Share section explains how to make learning visible with active sharing, documentation suggestions, and discussion prompts to encourage students to talk about their learning during the STEM Lab.
- Bring students together to share projects from the Play section activities.
- Capture students engaging in the STEM Lab activities and share with families and your learning community.
Student-Driven Visible Thinking
- Use these suggestions to create and display artifacts of student learning.
Metacognition - Reflecting Together
- Bring students together in a group.
Ask students questions from this category to facilitate a discussion.