.This is part 4 of my STEM Lab Story. If you have not read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, please go back and read those first.
STEM Lab Schedule
For the 2016/2017 school year, the biggest change that I made to the STEM Lab had to do with the schedule. From the previous year, I noticed that the students in grade 3-5 were never able to complete a project in the STEM Lab, before having to clean up and move on. I made a huge change to the schedule, so that one (3-5) class would visit the STEM Lab at a time. This allowed students from that class to work on a project for one week (4 days). They could store their work-in-progress until the next day, if needed, and then clean up their materials on the final day (Friday).
You can purchase my sample STEM Lab schedule HERE. If you use Google Docs, there is a link within the sample STEM Lab schedule resource that will allow you to make a copy of my schedule. Once you have made the copy, you will be able to modify it however you need. If you have questions about the sample STEM Lab schedule, please leave them in the comments below!
STEM Lab Journal
In addition to the schedule I spent a lot of time working and re-working the journal that students would complete during their time in the STEM Lab. I wanted a journal that focused on reflection and goal setting, so that students could evaluate their own learning. I also figured out, very quickly, that a simple format was better, since I was seeing multiple classes each week in the STEM Lab.
I developed one Journal format for grades 3-5 and a different journal template for grades 6-8. You can purchase my STEM Lab Journal/Reflection (Google Slides) Template HERE. You will need access to Google Slides to use the template, and I suggest distributing and collecting work through Google Classroom.
Advice for Getting Started with your STEM Lab
For those of you that in the beginning stages of setting up a STEM Lab, I would highly suggest creating a set schedule and using some type of journal. There should also be some type of STEM Lab Orientation for students, prior to them working in the Lab. This establishes the rules, procedures, and expectations of the STEM Lab.
Also, remember that it is okay if you are not an expert on every kit or software in your Lab! I figured out many things in the STEM Lab alongside my students. Encourage them to search for their own answers, rather than asking you immediately. That could be talking with a classmate, re-reading a manual, or finding a helpful video on YouTube.
I would love to support you as you begin your journey with STEM, either in a Lab, or in your classroom. Please leave a comment below with any questions or wonderings, or find me on Twitter @mrslovefleck.
All thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas are that of Heather Love-Fleck, and not the school district that employs her. She reserves the right to change her thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas at any time.