Here are some things you might consider for a potential course in STEM for grades 5-8.
1. Labs and projects using LEGO NXT or EV3: We have two books, Vernier Engineering Projects for LEGO MINDSTORM Education for NXT and EV3. These contain a variety of projects and challenges for students to design and write programs to control. See:
To see sample movies of the projects in action, go to the bottom of the NXT page.
To see all the projects and labs in the books, click on the photo of each book.
2. Expose your students to programming and coding by using Scratch- https://scratch.mit.edu/ - a graphical based computer programming language that only requires a web browser. You can take this to the next step by incorporating our Go!Motion or Go!Temp sensors into their program. For more information on this, see: https://www.vernier.com/engineering/scratch/
3. Add Engineering Extensions to a standard science course:
The idea here would be to teach a more or less standard junior high science course, but to add "engineering design challenges" throughout the course at . For example, after a series of activities and labs on thermodynamics, you might challenge the students to build a model solar home or see who could best insulate and keep warm a bottle of hot water (using materials they choose, with design constraints). Another example would be after studying motion, they would be challenged to build add a crumple zone on a car to protect an "egg passenger" as they crash into a barrier. We have some challenges of this type at http://www.vernier.com/engineering/science-classrooms/
For Middle School and above, check out the extensions and the projects. Many of these extensions use our Digital Control Unit (DCU) to turn on and off electrical devices depending on sensor readings. Three output lines on the DCU can be controlled from a LabQuest 2 or our Logger Pro Software using input from any of our sensors. This is a great way to introduce the idea of making a decision and controlling an output based on information from the world, a key STEM principle. See: http://www.vernier.com/products/sensors/dcu-btd/
4. Teach about Engineering with KidWind Kits
We partner with KidWind. They have systems where kids can design windmills and try to see how much electrical energy they can produce. They can adjust the number of blades on the turbine, the shape and angle of the blades, etc.This is one of the few systems that meaningfully introduces a system with more than one variable and looks for how to optimize the output. There is similar material for solar energy. Check out: http://www.vernier.com/products/kidwind/
5. Check out the Renewable Energy with Vernier at http://www.vernier.com/products/books/rev/.
This book includes many of the KidWind projects and other projects related to solar and wind energy.
6. Project Lead The Way:
This is a very well-developed program of STEM courses. We are pleased to be involved in some of them. They have programs for high school, middle school, and elementary schools. Check out http://www.pltw.org
7. For more advanced students, consider teaching Electronics and Programming with Arduino. Arduino is a inexpensive, easy to program microcontroller. It has free software and if you have a teacher who knows some programming, I think you find a lot of students really would enjoy learning how to control the Arduino and write simple programs to turn on lamps and buzzers or control robots. This is appropriate for advanced middle school or high school courses. See http://arduino.cc and http://www.vernier.com/arduino.
TIL 3483: Arduino and SparkFun RedBoard Troubleshooting and FAQs