We’ve come a long way since the paper-mache volcano was the undisputed king to teach hands-on science experiments. Now, in classrooms across the country, creative teachers are exploring new technology and finding innovative uses for classic materials to bring STEM to life.
Here are 10 teachers who have used DonorsChoose.org to bring materials into their classrooms to teach hands-on science. Through these projects, their students have experienced everything from real-world DNA research to birdwatching to composting. If you want to help spark a lifetime love of science in your students, exploring these projects is a perfect place to start.
All of the items used in the projects below are available on DonorsChoose.org from respected STEM education vendors like the Carolina, Sargent-Welch, Frey Scientific, and Grainger.
(K – 5th Grade)
Every year I see the same students as they make their way from Kindergarten to 5th grade. One of their first questions every year is, “Will you take us to the garden?” We grow vegetables that everyone finds delicious and are proud to eat.
(9th – 12th Grade)
Our students are curious and dedicated to doing real world science. All we are missing is the equipment. With it we will be able to train the next generation of geneticists.
(Pre-K – 2nd Grade)
The hydroponic garden system will allow for my students to gain an appreciation for nature which is allows them to be proactive in other initiatives with recycling and zero waste that are being promoted in my classroom on a daily basis.
Our classroom meteorologists of the week look forward to going out every morning to record their data on the chart. They feel important that the rest of the class depends on them to provide them with the current weather situation.
Without the binoculars, it would be extremely difficult for my students to see the birds that we find in the school yard. I suspect the kids would lose interest quickly. Since we have the binoculars, the kids are empowered to make discoveries and close observations.
One of the most rewarding and unexpected outcomes of this lab was watching the students take their newly learned information home to their parents. They asked their parents what their blood type was, and used this information, and information learned from the labs, to determine their own blood type possibilities. My students are now talking about the importance of organizations like the Red Cross and have started asking questions about other, rarer blood types across the world.
Each day they came to school they observed their caterpillars and recorded their progress with the art supplies we received. They were even able to witness their caterpillars spin their chrysalis during the observations. We watched many of them emerge from their chrysalis and each student was able to hold one and release it when it was time. While we can learn about life cycles through books and videos, this hands-on experience was so much more interesting.
My students enjoy learning about the cardiovascular system. Learning about the human heart and how it works is especially interesting to them. I want them to be able to demonstrate a competence in the correct and responsible usage of the stethoscope and take blood pressure readings from a human subject (classmate). Equipment for hands on learning is the foremost way to achieve this. My students are curious, intelligent and passionate individuals who are looking for a challenge.
We will explore various animals’ anatomy by analyzing the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates. I have noticed that students struggle with understanding how some animals can be vertebrates, such as snakes (because they are flexible animals) and fish (because they are used to eating fish fillets, which do not contain fish skeleton). The donations from this project will help my students study invertebrate and vertebrate models and understand the complexity of animals’ differences and how these differences are characteristic of their environment.
My students get to be ecologists. This will be a positive and memorable opportunity for the students to see themselves as scientists and be able to ignite a lifelong passion for the environment, animals and, of course, science.
What hands-on science projects are helping your students connect with and understand STEM concepts? Let us know in the comments!