VEX GO offers a wealth of resources and curricular support to enable you to infuse STEM and Computer Science concepts into your learning space easily, creatively, and confidently. STEM Labs, Activity Series, and Activities offer varying levels of facilitation and scaffolding. They can be implemented individually, or in combination to best match your teaching style and the needs and interests of your students.
This article will cover:
- What STEM Labs, Activity Series, and Activities Are
- Choosing and Using These Resources Effectively
- Tying It All Together – Toni's Story
What STEM Labs, Activity Series, and Activities Are
The VEX GO platform contains educational resources to support the incorporation of meaningful learning experiences into your existing curriculum. There are three main resources – STEM Labs, Activity Series, and Activities – that can be used in conjunction with one another, or as individual engagements.
VEX GO STEM Labs function as “plugin” lessons that can fit into your existing curriculum. Multiple STEM Labs can be used in sequential order to create a unique, extended learning experience for your students. You can also use a STEM Lab Unit that ties into what you are learning, to infuse STEM and Computer Science concepts into your learning experiences.
GO Activity Series offer a sequence of VEX GO Activities, with supporting Teacher Notes, to create a facilitated lesson with your VEX GO Kit.
GO Activities are simple one page exercises that connect to the content and coding students are learning. They lend themselves well to independent student use, such as a Learning Center or morning warmups.
Choosing and Using These Resources Effectively
As you are looking for ways to incorporate VEX GO into your curriculum, consider the level of facilitation and scaffolding that you and your students need in order to be successful. All VEX GO resources can be used flexibly, and adapted to suit your teaching style, comfort level with STEM and coding concepts, and your students’ needs. However, each offering has a different level of teacher involvement embedded into it.
For a more step-by-step, guided lesson experience, STEM Labs are like your online teacher’s manual. Similar to 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 GO. 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. STEM Labs are an ideal way to build student engagement and establish best practices in your classroom for using VEX GO together.
Once your students are comfortable building and using their VEX GO Kits, GO Activities are a great way to give students the opportunity for more independent exploration. As student-facing documents, Activities do not require much teacher facilitation. Activities fit well in a Learning Center, as an extension activity for a STEM Lab, or as a Choice Time activity for students to practice a variety of skills with VEX GO.
Activity Series sequence multiple Activities, with some teacher facilitation notes and contextualization, to offer a flexible lesson that can easily be used in a variety of settings. Activity Series give teachers a narrative context from which to base their lesson, and gives students the opportunity to bring that narrative to life using their VEX GO Kits. Activity Series can work well as shorter lesson engagements, but do not have a time frame associated with them. They can also be easily stretched to create a more immersive experience by adding free-building elements to the builds or GO Fields with VEX GO Kits, or by adding to coding challenges. These engagements can help to bring students’ and teacher’s creativity to their STEM learning.
STEM Labs, Activity Series, and Activities can be used separately or in conjunction with one another, to infuse STEM concepts into your curriculum. The Pacing Guides in each STEM Lab identify strategies to support implementation and reteaching, including connections between the Lab content and Activities.
Additionally, the GO Cumulative Pacing Guide, and the 1:1 Pacing Guide show recommendations for sequencing, and connections between different resources, to help you see at a glance how the VEX GO resources fit together.
Tying It All Together – Toni's Story
Toni has been teaching 4th grade for several years, and runs a STEM Club after school, that has been growing in popularity each semester. She has been looking for ways to incorporate more hands-on activities into her after school curriculum, however her school did not have many interactive STEM materials for elementary students. Toni was delighted when she learned about VEX GO, seeing it as the perfect opportunity to infuse hands-on STEM into her club. She was especially glad to see the curricular resources available for her to use, so that she would not have to spend a lot of extra time planning for each club meeting.
Toni introduced VEX GO to her Club students using the Intro to Building STEM Lab Unit. Her class immediately connected with Col. Jo as she shared the story with them, and she used the STEM Lab guidance as a way to help her students learn how to use and take care of their VEX GO Kits. Her students couldn’t wait to build more, so Toni taught the Simple Machines STEM Lab Unit next. During each Club meeting, students constructed and tested a different build. With each session, students gained confidence in building with the VEX GO Kits, while having fun learning about mechanisms and engineering.
At this point her students were confidently able to use their VEX GO Kits with growing independence, so Toni could then add the Activities connected to the STEM Lab to her Club time, letting her students play games with the Strike! Activity, and be creative with their clock build, with the Brain Break Activity. Toni liked how the Activities worked for her Club time frame, and looked to the Activity Series for a themed set of Activities to use. She saw the HEXBUG Island Activity Series, and knew this would be a perfect way to bring her students learning to life! At each Club meeting, she and her students “met” a different HEXBUG, and when the time came to race them – the students were so excited! Toni found that being able to be creative in their STEM learning, made her students more engaged and inspired to learn more. Toni then spent the next several Club meetings with her students applying their knowledge to design and build their very own HEXBUGS. Students were so eager to share their designs, that they asked if STEM Club could have an open house day, so they could share their creations and knowledge with friends and family!