The What, Why, and How of STEM in Elementary Education

By Mary-Eileen Gallagher on June 7, 2019


If you’re like a lot of general education teachers, you've heard a lot about STEM education lately. Maybe you've been asked by your K-5 principal to be the school's STEM teacher but aren't sure exactly where to start, or you're just looking for ways to incorporate it into your classroom curriculum.

Here at Kid Spark Education, we’re passionate about science, technology, engineering, and math.  We also understand the challenges educators face in implementing STEM curriculum. Whether it’s a lack of resources and funding, the need for more training, or uncertainty about where to start, we know where you’re coming from as a teacher and we’re here to help.

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to take the guesswork out of STEM and give you the confidence and tools to get started today. 

In this article we’ll cover:

If you have questions after reading this guide, don’t hesitate to connect with us. Now let’s get started!

What is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But don’t let this basic definition lead you to think that STEM is about teaching these subjects separately and in isolation from one another. Instead, think of STEM as an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to learning. It engages students in meaningful and collaborative work that mirrors real life. Through the integration of science, technology, engineering, and math, students learn to look at the world with curiosity, think critically, and apply practical knowledge to solve problems. These are 21st century skills that will serve all students well in their academic and professional lives.

STEM moves beyond the basic levels of remembering and understanding in Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised) to engage students in higher forms of thinking such as analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, and creating. STEM also helps bridge the gap between school, the workplace and the broader economy by highlighting the kinds of problems people are paid to solve every day.


Let’s take a closer look at each discipline in STEM and explore how they’re connected.


Science is the study of the physical and natural world. It includes basic facts about the world as well as the process for discovering new things through the scientific method. At the heart of science is evidence and empiricism. Through observation and experimentation, scientists test their hypotheses, collect and analyze data, and refine theories. They use evidence to explain natural phenomena and understand the physical world.

Scientists study a broad range of things including weather and climate, animal behavior in the wild, micro-organisms and cells, how the human body works, and where diseases come from.


When you hear the word technology, you likely think of computers, iPads, and touchscreens. But these are just examples of technology, and very modern examples at that. So, what exactly is technology?

Although technology comes in many forms, its main purpose is to create tools that reduce effort, save time, and increase comfort and efficiency. Once a problem is identified, a person uses their understanding of the natural world, based on science, to design and a create a solution through engineering, which requires math. This requires keen observation, many rounds of experimentation, and an understanding of underlying scientific and engineering principles; the ability to apply math and abstract reasoning is crucial to this process.

As you can see, these disciplines are intimately connected.

Examples of major technological breakthroughs in human history include the wheel, the printing press, the steam engine, the lightbulb, the automobile, and the airplane. A classroom also holds many examples of technology. From scissors and glue, to Unifix cubes and sit spots, ordinary classroom materials solve problems for teachers and students every day.

Things we often take for granted, like alarm clocks, forks, velcro, and windshield wipers, are all examples of technology. How do you use technology to solve your biggest challenges throughout the day?


Engineering is the process of designing and building technology (tools, systems, and processes) that solve a problem. Engineering comes from the Latin words ingenium, which means cleverness, and ingeniare, which means to design or devise. Engineers are practical problem solvers concerned with form and function. They focus their design cleverness on how a machine, tool, or structure can be created or made more efficient and reliable.

Engineers rely heavily on science and math to ensure that a tool will work as it is intended. For example, an architect might propose constructing a building made out of new materials invented by scientists. An engineer’s task is to figure out how to build the structure to last and function properly in all conditions.

Scientists and engineers are similar, but they differ in a few important ways: 

Scientists . . .

Engineers . . .

  • Ask questions and build theories.
  • Find practical purposes for scientific discoveries.
  • Want to understand and explain things.
  • Create and build things based on science and math.
  • Study why things are the way they are.
  • Study how things work and can be useful.

While science is focused on understanding and explaining the natural world, engineering takes this understanding and uses it to improve human technology. Like scientists, engineers test designs and collect and analyze evidence. However, they are interested in modifying designs in order to improve performance, rather than refining theories.

Examples of engineering achievements in human history include the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Roman aqueducts, farm irrigation, and central heating.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), created in 2013 to elevate and standardize science education in the United States, emphasize the importance of providing students with a solid foundation in engineering so that they will be able to participate in solving the societal and environmental challenges of the future.


Math is an integral part of science, technology, and engineering, as well as an important subject in its own right. We often reduce our definition of math to the basics of arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) and consider speed at these calculations to mean a person is good at math. But math involves far more than this. A deep conceptual understanding, not speed of calculation, is the mark of a mathematician.

When students participate in a high-quality math program, they develop logical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. Through rigorous math practice, students gain important executive function skills such as flexible thinking, self-regulation, and sustained focus.

For students to be successful in math they need more than basic procedural fluency. The Common Core’s eight mathematical practices demonstrate the dynamic ways students need to understand and apply mathematics:

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Scientists and engineers rely on excellent math skills and a strong math mindset in order to follow logical steps, persevere in problem-solving, communicate arguments clearly, and think outside the box for unique and creative solutions. 

Being skilled in math is required in professions such as accounting, financial planning, building, plumbing, and nursing.

Why is STEM important?

STEM is important because through the integration of science, technology, engineering, and math, students develop a unique perspective about the world. STEM thinkers explore the world with curiosity, seek to understand how and why things work, and design technological solutions to improve our everyday lives.

STEM education also builds what are commonly referred to as 21st century skills and include the following:

  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Technology Literacy
  • Leadership
  • Flexibility

Focusing on memorization and rote learning is no longer a viable way to provide instruction because the world no longer relies on workers who are trained in only one area. Today’s workforce needs to be able to learn any number of new things in order to keep pace with our rapidly changing world.

It’s important to remember that teaching STEM is not just about preparing students for careers in STEM. We don’t teach writing so that all students will become professional writers, and we don’t teach reading so that all students will become literature professors.

Similarly, we don’t teach STEM so that all students will become scientists and engineers. We teach STEM so that students will learn how to learn and lead productive adult lives in any field they choose. The future is unpredictable, but education experts, business leaders, and policy makers agree that STEM equips students with the 21st century skills needed to be successful and productive members of society, regardless of their career choice.

The 3 things students need to be successful in STEM

Students need a STEM identity, technology fluency, and STEM mentors in order to be successful in STEM education.

#1: A STEM identity

A STEM identity simply means that students see themselves as being capable and successful in learning and understanding science, technology, engineering, and math. To develop a STEM identity, it’s important for students to engage in STEM as early and often as possible. Children’s brains develop most substantially when they are young. Increasingly, research tells us that introducing STEM early in a child’s education can have positive long-term effects on students’ interest and achievement in STEM—in other words, when children engage in STEM early and often, they’re much more likely to develop a STEM identity.

Typically, formal STEM education begins in middle school or high school. Unfortunately, this is too late. In fact, research tells us that if children haven’t developed a STEM identity by 3rd or 4th grade, they’re more likely to opt out of STEM later in life. When children haven’t developed the foundational STEM fluencies needed to succeed, such as the ability to decode symbolic language, problem-solving in three dimensions, and analyzing data for patterns, they’re unprepared for STEM studies in high school and lack the confidence needed to pursue STEM subjects they see as challenging. The result is that an insufficient number of students choose STEM majors in college and go on to pursue STEM careers.

Imagine what it would be like if we didn’t start teaching reading and writing until middle school or high school. No one would ever suggest this as a best teaching practice. But why do we accept it when it comes to STEM education?


A common misconception that leads to delayed STEM education is the belief that young children are just not capable of participating in complex STEM topics. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Young children often engage in complex scientific and engineering practices, but at their own developmentally appropriate level. Children are naturally curious and intentionally explore their environments in a rigorous and scientific way. Children readily make observations, test out hypotheses, collect and interpret data, and make conjectures.

For example, when babies repeatedly drop objects from their high chairs, they are engaging in the scientific method. When they devise ways to escape their cribs, they are engineering and authoring with technology in order to solve a problem. Similarly, preschoolers who build elaborate forts and play in the sand box engage in multifaceted STEM practices appropriate for their age group.

Developing students’ STEM identity is about naming the STEM practices they already do naturally, teaching them how to apply their knowledge and skills across different disciplines, and giving them hands-on experiences and mentoring to explore new STEM concepts.

#2: Technology fluency

When students possess technology fluency, it means they have the confidence and skill to creatively author with technology to solve real-word problems. Technology fluency is connected to the development of specific capacities, like the practice of rigorous arithmetic, the ability to measure and use ratios, and the development of computational thinking and coding fluencies.

Developing technology fluency is similar to learning a foreign language in that it takes time and practice to build proficiency. To be fluent in a foreign language requires knowledge of diverse parts of speech, and the ability to put them together to communicate ideas. In the same way, technology fluency requires the application of science, technology, engineering, and math skills to create technological solutions. Students with technology fluency will persevere in the face of challenges and seek out creative ways to solve problems.

Technology fluency boosts a student’s STEM identity and leads to increased confidence and proficiency in STEM. Technology fluency is developed through numerous experiences in STEM, hence the importance of starting STEM education early. It’s only through hands-on experiences, multiple failures and successes, and targeted support that students develop technology fluency and a STEM identity.

#3: STEM mentors

While all children are natural designers and explorers, they need to learn to think like scientists and engineers. That’s why your role as a teacher is so important.

Many teachers report feeling nervous about teaching STEM because they don’t feel confident in their own STEM abilities. Unfortunately, this fear holds many educators back from teaching STEM. The good news is that you don’t need to be a STEM expert to successfully teach STEM and foster your students’ STEM identities.

Instead of thinking that you need to be a STEM specialist, consider your role as being a STEM mentor. Your job is not to have all the right answers, but rather to ask the kind of questions that deepen students’ thinking and provide lots of hands-on STEM opportunities.


Your attitude and beliefs about STEM can affect how your students think about STEM and the identity they develop. Ultimately, this means you have the opportunity to be the STEM teacher you may never have had in school and to give your students STEM experiences that could potentially inspire a lifelong passion. It’s a gift you can give to your students and to yourself.

Modeling curiosity, encouraging students to embrace challenges, and asking open-ended questions are some of the ways you can support students in STEM.

When a child says, “Look at my tower. Do you like it?” here are five ways you can respond to support a STEM identity and build 21st century skills:

  1. “Can you tell me exactly how you made it?”  Asking students to articulate their process step by step builds communication and logical thinking skills
  2. What do you think would happen if…?”  Encourages students to apply their current knowledge to an unknown situation based on evidence and experience.
  3. “What was the hardest part? What did you do to overcome it?”  By reflecting on a challenge and how they solved it, students develop confidence and see themselves as problem-solving engineers.
  4. “Can you draw and label a picture of your creation so we can hang it up for others to see and learn from?”  Highlights the community aspect of STEM and develops the skill of drawing a model to communicate an idea. 
  5. “What advice would you give to a friend who wanted to build this?”  Challenges students to synthesize information, evaluate the most important aspects, and communicate clearly. If you ask students to write down their advice, this integrates STEM and writing, thereby building critical thinking and communication skills across disciplines.

Students don’t need to learn STEM from expert scientists or engineers any more than children need their swim instructor to be an Olympic gold medalist. Children need to learn STEM from the people who nurture them and know them well—their beloved teachers.

Although teaching STEM is an important responsibility that could potentially feel overwhelming, you act as a STEM mentor when you demonstrate enthusiasm and believe in the ability of young children to engage in challenging STEM work. Many programs like Kid Spark Education provide you with the curriculum, materials, and training you need to be an amazing STEM mentor without a specialized STEM background. You can do it!

An ideal STEM curriculum

We’ve established that it’s important for students to engage in STEM early and often. Yet, how we engage students in STEM matters greatly.

If we want students to develop a STEM identity and technology fluency, then we need to provide STEM instruction that is comprehensive, systematic, and consistent throughout their time in school. Participating in one or two brief STEM activities a semester will certainly be fun for students but is unlikely to prepare them for rigorous STEM study in the future or lead to a strong STEM identity.

To understand why comprehensive STEM curriculum is so important, think about the structures and strategies that are currently used to teach the core subjects of reading, writing, and math.

For these subjects, students practice on a daily basis, are taught through an incremental process of learning and mastering content, and are provided with the necessary differentiation techniques to meet their individual needs.

Here is something to consider: A teacher would never teach three random writing lessons throughout the year and claim that she had adequately prepared students for writing at grade level. Similarly, a teacher would never create a curriculum calendar that only taught math when she had "extra" time to fill. Though we would never do this for the core subjects, this is frequently the approach for STEM.

Disjointed and infrequent STEM lessons will do little to equip students with a strong STEM identity and the passion to pursue STEM studies. To have a deep and lasting impact, STEM education needs a more serious approach. Students need STEM lessons that build upon each other, target their proximal zone of development, and develop foundational STEM skills.

We understand that not all teachers and schools have access to the type of comprehensive STEM curriculum that we advocate for and provide here at Kid Spark Education. We also understand that not all teachers have access to materials like Kid Spark’s Mobile STEM Labs which offer a wide selection of robust and reusable engineering materials that support students across multiple grade levels and content year after year.

But should you hold back from teaching STEM because you don’t already have an all-inclusive STEM curriculum prepared? Far from it! There are many resources and STEM activities for elementary and middle school available on the internet to get you started in preparing the next generation of STEM learners.

Structures to support STEM learning

There are two structures you can use to introduce STEM projects to your students. There is convergent to divergent learning and the engineering design process. Here’s an overview of each one. 

Convergent to Divergent Learning

When people talk about STEM, they often use terms such as “open-ended,” and “project-based.” You rarely hear STEM described as direct instruction. However, step-by-step explicit instruction is an important part of STEM education for kids. We call this convergent learning.

Convergent learning is when all students study the same material, build the same model, and arrive at the same conclusion. For example, all students could follow instructions to build a hammer with given materials. Through building a hammer, students learn the foundational STEM concept of how to make something strong by using a brace. Convergent learning ensures that all students gain foundational knowledge and experience success.

Once students are familiar with the basic concept, they are ready for divergent learning. In divergent learning, students apply what they have learned through a design challenge that has many possible solutions.

For example, after building a small bridge through convergent learning, students could be tasked to build a bridge that spans a long distance and will support the weight of several cars. Through this challenge, students will use their knowledge of how to make things strong and could come up with any number of successful bridge designs that meet the criteria.

Starting with convergent learning and progressing to divergent learning is a helpful teaching strategy that ensures students gain mastery of key STEM concepts. It gives students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a way that builds problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Convergent learning is an important equalizer in the STEM classroom. As you know, some students come to school with more background knowledge and fluency in STEM, while others have little or no experience.

Explicitly teaching STEM concepts through convergent to divergent learning ensures that all students gain foundational knowledge and can participate on an equal playing field.

As you plan and design STEM activities for your kids, think about how you might use convergent learning to build skills and divergent learning to show mastery and application. Students need lots of experiences in convergent and divergent learning in order to develop a STEM identity and technology fluency.

The Engineering Design Process

In case you haven’t heard of the engineering design process, we want to take a moment to define and describe it for you. It’s a great way to structure STEM activities in your classroom and it teaches students how real engineers identify and solve problems. Through step-by-step process, engineers design, build, test, and refine their solutions.

The engineering design process has five basic steps:

Step 1: Identify the challenge

Define and understand the problem and ask questions to understand it better. The problem can be presented by the teacher to the students, or the students can identify the problem themselves.

Step 2: Brainstorm solutions

Next, imagine solutions and brainstorm ideas, even ones that seem impossible.

Step 3: Prototype

Select one idea and create a plan. The plan can include drawing a model, collecting materials, and thinking about how to design the solution. Then create a prototype (a model) from that plan so you can test it out.

Step 4: Test and improve

Try it out! Does your plan work? Analyze and evaluate the test results. Based on the test results, improve the design to make it more successful. Test it again and again and make improvements.

Step 5: Explain the design

An important part to designing & engineering new things is the ability to demonstrate and explain to others how a design works. This is also a chance to revisit why certain design features have been included and to confirm the ways that your design helps solve the original problem.

Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 11.13.25 AMThe engineering design process is an iterative process, which means engineers typically go through it multiple times (particularly steps 3-5) in order to create the best solution. In this process, engineers develop empathy, learn from failure, and become creative problem solvers.

Children naturally engage in the engineering design process. Take the block center as an example. Think about the importance of block play in early childhood and how children use the engineering design process.

Step 1:  While playing at the block center, children decide to build the tallest tower.
Step 2 They share different ideas on how to do it.
Step 3: A plan is chosen, verbally or nonverbally, and materials are selected.
Step 4: Children start to build. Blocks fall. Things do not go as planned.
Step 5: Improvements and adjustments are made. New strategies are tried.

You can help to more intentionally use the engineering and design process to introduce and structure STEM activities for kids in your classroom.

For example, you can gather your students together and present a problem. As a class, you can brainstorm solutions. Individually or in groups, students can choose a plan, draw a model, gather materials, and articulate their plan. You’ll want to provide lots of time for students to build their designs.

Once everyone has built their designs, you can gather together to test the designs. Testing as a whole group will enable students to learn from each other’s successes and failures. Have students reflect on the testing process, analyze their results, and brainstorm ways to improve their designs. And then the process repeats itself with more time to build and re-design.

10 simple STEM activities for elementary students

Here are 9 engaging engineering activities to try with your students. As you read through these ideas, think about how you might incorporate convergent and divergent learning and the engineering design process. These are general ideas and we know you will use the materials and resources you have on hand and adapt them to meet the unique needs of your students. 

#1: Nature walk

Taking your class on a nature walk is a wonderful way to introduce your students to STEM. Think of nature as a huge laboratory where students can practice being scientists by making careful observations and asking questions. You can bring materials such as magnifying glasses, digging tools, paper and crayons for bark rubbings, a camera, binoculars, and nature journals.

Students will also enjoy creating their own pair of binoculars using tape, toilet paper rolls, and string. Although it won’t actually magnify anything, it will help focus students’ attention on nature and build their STEM identity.

If you survey the habitat before visiting with students, you can create a nature scavenger hunt for students to participate in. And don’t forget that humans aren’t the only engineers on this planet—animals are engineers too! Invite students to look for ways that animals design solutions to solve their problems of finding food, avoiding predators, seeking shelter, rearing young. 

When you return to class, students can record their observations, make scientific drawings, and write down questions. You can bind into a class book for students to look through.

Nature walks are also a great addition to your preschool STEM curriculum.

#2: Engineering with fairytales

Classic fairytales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and Rapunzel can be used to introduce STEM and the engineering design process.

Let’s use Goldilocks and the Three Bears as an example. After reading the story, present the problem to students—Goldilocks broke Baby Bear’s chair and Baby Bear won’t stop crying until he gets a new chair. Tell students that their engineering design challenge is to build a new chair for Baby Bear that is comfortable, strong, and the right size. You can use Kid Spark materials for this or materials you may already have on hand in your classroom.

After brainstorming ideas, students can choose one idea and create a plan. Students can draw a model of their idea and describe it to a partner. Then give students a variety of materials to use and time to build. To test the chairs’ strength, students can stack pennies or weights on their chairs to see how much it can hold. Based on the results, students can make adjustments and improve their design.

With so many fairytales to choose from, you could create a fairytale STEM challenge once a month and engage your students in fun STEM learning. Fairytales make great stem activities for kindergarten and first grade because of the interdisciplinary connections to literacy. 

#3: Paper airplane challenge

Making paper airplanes is another great activity that engages students in the engineering design process. You can use convergent learning to show students a few different foundational folding techniques and divergent learning to setup different design challenges such as longest flight, highest peak, and loop-the-loops.

Provide students with a chart to record the results and distances of each throw to integrate science and math. Adding paper airplanes to your elementary STEM curriculum will get students excited and interested in STEM.

#4: Engineering with index cards

This is an inexpensive activity that engages students in collaboration and problem solving. And all you need are 3 x 5 index cards. Students will work in groups of four and each group needs at least 100 index cards.

Share these three simple rules with students:

  1. Work together to build anything you’d like.
  2. Fold each card only once.
  3. Talking is not allowed.

Give students ample time to build and work together. Students will use folded cards and flat cards to build creative structures. They will be challenged to communicate without talking.

At the end, invite students to reflect on the challenges and share their strategies for success. This is a great STEM activity to try at the beginning of the year to build community and teamwork.

#5: Egg drop STEM challenge

In the egg drop challenge, students design a container that will prevent a raw egg from breaking when dropped from a designated height. Students of all ages love this challenge, including watching numerous eggs explode in the process.

Through this project, students learn to see failure as just a step in the engineering design process. Students learn from failure, modify their designs based on tests, and find effective ways to keep the egg safe. It also works as a middle school STEM activity.

#6: World famous architecture in the block center

Through block play, children learn STEM concepts related to shape, size, weight, and location. They discover and repeat patterns, which is a math skill, and build engineering knowledge about structure, proportionality, and balance. While it is essential that students have time to self-initiate their own projects at the block center, you can also provide fun STEM challenges.

Print out color photographs of famous architectural structures from around the world such as the Empire State Building, Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Pantheon, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Students can use these photographs to inspire their own building designs and experience the challenges real engineers and architects face. The importance of block play in early childhood cannot be overemphasized as students learn many foundational STEM concepts.

#7: STEM challenges with stuffies

If you want students to absolutely fall in love with STEM, invite students to bring their favorite stuffie (stuffed animal) to school.

During Stuffie STEM Week, provide students with various STEM challenges relating to Stuffie management and care. Here are three Stuffie-inspired STEM challenges to help get you started.

  1. Your stuffie has to spend the night at school this week. Build a bed for your Stuffie so it can sleep in the classroom.
  2. Oh no! Your stuffie climbed to the top of the cabinet and is too scared to climb back down. Design a solution to get your stuffie back on the ground safely.
  3. Your stuffie hasn’t been sleeping very well at night because one of the stuffies snores very loudly. Design a solution so your stuffie can get a peaceful night’s sleep.

You can use Kid Spark materials for this or materials you may already have on hand in your classroom.

#8: The tallest structure challenge

Students love building tall things, especially if they can build it taller than themselves! For this STEM challenge, divide students into groups of 2-4 and give each group a bag full of materials, either from Kid Spark Mobile STEM Labs or materials such as toilet paper rolls, cups, paper plates, straws, and balloons. The challenge is for each group to create the tallest free-standing tower possible.

#9: Students design their own STEM challenges

 You can have students complete the entire engineering design process from start to finish on their own by identifying a problem that is meaningful to them from their own lives. Examples might be designing a way to keep their crayons organized or a device that prevents their cat from scratching them.

Once students have identified a problem, lead them through the engineering design process to arrive at a solution. At the end, you can turn your classroom into an “Invention Museum” and invite parents and other classes to come check out students’ STEM work.

How STEM supports a growth mindset

STEM activities like the ones listed above as well as the ones you find in Kid Spark’s curriculum are a great way to teach students to have a growth mindset. In case you are not familiar with this term, growth mindset is the belief that we can develop our talent and abilities through hard work, learning from failure, and help from others. In contrast, fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence, talent, and ability are fixed traits that cannot be improved upon. These concepts were developed by Carol Dweck, researcher and professor of Psychology at Stanford University.

STEM is a great way to teach students about having a growth mindset because making mistakes are part of the engineering design process. When students understand that STEM is supposed to be challenging and that failure is something to learn from, they will work hard, persevere, and try new strategies when things don’t go as planned.

6 ways to fund your STEM activities

Often, educators need to find additional funds to start their STEM programs. Here are six ways you can raise money to start a STEM program for kids in your classroom or school.

#1: Donors Choose

Donors Choose is a nonprofit website that allows public school teachers to post projects and receive funding for materials, supplies, and technology from donors around the world. As a classroom teacher, you can write a proposal for a particular elementary STEM curriculum, middle school STEM curriculum, or specific STEM supplies. If you've never written a grant before, or just want some help, check out our article on writing grants for STEM.

#2: Business donations

Consider reaching out to STEM-related businesses in your local community and directly asking for donations to fund STEM activities for your classroom. You can also invite employees of these companies to come and speak to your students about their STEM careers.

#3: Attend a STEM Meet Up

Meet Up is an online platform used to organize in-person events for people with shared interests. You can find STEM-related groups on Meet Up and attend their events in order to network with STEM professionals and solicit donations and support for your STEM activities.

#4: School fundraiser

Talk to you principal or Parent Teacher Organization about holding a school fundraiser to support purchasing new STEM curriculum.

#5: Reach out to the families in your class

If you want free STEM materials, ask the families in your class to save recyclables such as toilet paper rolls, food containers, caps and lids, small cardboard boxes, and anything else they would normally recycle. Your students will love using these materials for any of the 10 simple STEM activities we shared.

#6: STEM education grants

There are a lot of grants out there that can support your work. Kid Spark Education offers a matching grant to educational institutions to help acquire a Kid Spark program. Grants range from $100-500 and can be used for the initial purchase of a Kid Spark program. Apply today and see how we can help you grow your STEM capabilities!

Go forth and teach STEM!

We know that teaching STEM can feel daunting at first. But we also know that with a little effort and support, it can easily and quickly become one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of your job. Through STEM, students build confidence as creators and innovators and learn how to be successful and flexible in our increasingly complex world. None of this would be possible without you, the teacher, leading the way.

We honor the work you do every day as a teacher and we want to empower you to teach and enjoy STEM education. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with STEM in the comments below.


Duncan, G., Dowsett, C., Classens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A., Klebanov, P., Pagani, L., Feinstein, L., Engel, Brooks-Gunn, J., Sexton, H., Duckworth, K and Japel, C. (2007). School Readiness and Later Achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43, 1428-1446.











Topics: STEM mentors, STEM Activities, Elementary STEM Education, STEM Education

Mary-Eileen Gallagher

Written By Mary-Eileen Gallagher

Mary-Eileen Gallagher is a Bay Area educator with extensive teaching experience in grades K-5.

Would you like to receive more information about starting a Kid Spark STEM program for your students? 

Go beyond the buzzword with Kid Spark.

At Kid Spark Education, STEM isn't a buzzword: it's a powerful way to nurture students' natural curiosity; build confidence and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math; and foster abilities in collaboration, problem-solving, and communication. You, their teachers, are our most important partner in achieving our mission of preparing all children for a lifetime of learning about science and technology. The Kid Spark Blog is written by educators, for educators to be a resource in your toolbox so you can feel confident and capable in teaching STEM to your elementary students. 

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