4 Ways to Explore STEM Education Without Technology

Katie Vidal
14 Oct 2020
Google Earth image of Canberra

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have every resource you ever needed at your fingertips? School budgets don’t stretch that far, but you can still find ways to explore STEM without using technology.

Design projects are all the rage and maker spaces filled with toilet rolls and recyclables are messy. 

A pencil and paper can still support a strong STEM lesson without the copying of notes. Below are 5 fun ways to do STEM activities for kids with little or no technology.

1. Image Mat

It has been a wet second week of holidays and when you work from home, there are only so many board games, indoor obstacle courses and in-home movie sessions. Let alone the challenge of regulating screen time.

While tidying up, my children came across an image mat I use when instructing for She Maps.  This one is the image of Canberra, our home city.  This made it easily recognisable with Parliament House, the War Memorial and Lake Burley Griffin.

It is one of the images we use to simulate our real-world scenario in our face-to-face programs. Check out our range in our STEM gear.

The kids moved around the mat recognising landmarks, identifying where they had been and the experiences they had in those places.

2. Geospatial Science Missions at Home

Whilst I had the kids interested, it was time to give them a mission.

Lake Burley Griffin has flooded and caused major damage to the CBD, landmarks and roads. 

“So, today kids, you are geospatial scientist, and you need to show me how you would code your drone to fly over the area and take pictures to help the emergency services?”

The best part about this challenge is that there is no right answer. The different ages of my kids didn’t matter, they all participated and contributed at their level, in their own way. I gave them a verbal example and they went from there.

3. STEM Activities for Kids with Pencil and Paper

My 6 year old gave up as soon as the challenge was set, tears and his head was thrown back as he announced: “I don’t know how to do this!” I added  “YET!” as a small amount of growth mindset support.

It worked!

He watched his older brother and sister draw and gained his own confidence to have a go. Each drew their own pattern, some more complicated than others. 

I was able to have a chat with my teenager about the degrees of turn and the time each forward movement would need.  My daughter, 11 years old, was able to discuss the need for turning patterns in her code, but that her timing would reduce with each spiral.

My 6 year old son was happy with his completed product and was able to explain how the drone would move by actually stepping it out over the image. All three demonstrated an understanding of how they would use the drone to collect data. 

STEM activities for kids with pencil and paper
kids tracing and mapping drone movement with paper and pen

4. Taking it to the Classroom

We did not venture into code, there was no need to at this point.  After looking at their samples, I realised that this would be an effective lesson to add into a STEM curriculum, especially for classes without access to technology.

You don’t need an image mat either.  For this lesson, a map image of their local area would suffice. I did forget to mention to them as well that they need to illustrate where the drone would stop and take each picture, but that can be for another day.

With these STEM activities for kids, you are still creating a code and you can extend it to discuss how students would create a set of instructions, an algorithm, for a partner to move in the same pattern, just like the drone would.

We left the activity there, the kids were proud of their products. I loved the fact that it got them off their technology, and we all exploring STEM lessons at home.

Want More Lessons Like This?

Become a She Maps Member, you’ll get full access to our online learning portal known as Orbit and pursue STEM professional development courses. Ask us how! Or take a look at our online PD and resources.

You can also pick up some unique teaching ideas from this article: How This Educator Uses STEM in the Classroom?

 

 

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