Empowering tomorrow’s innovators: An educator’s guide to National STEM Day

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Picture this: A classroom filled with eager students, minds buzzing with curiosity, and the thrilling sense of discovery in the air. National STEM Day is right around the corner, offering you the unique opportunity to transform this vision into a vivid reality. As STEM educators, you hold the keys to unlock the wonder of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—the gateway to a world of boundless possibilities. In this blog post, we’ll be your guide to crafting a memorable STEM Day that’s educational and incredibly engaging and fun. Join us in making National STEM Day a remarkable experience that fosters a love for discovery and paves the way for your students to become visionary thinkers of the future. 

National STEM Day: Time to inNOV8

In our constantly evolving world, educators have a unique opportunity to instill a passion for problem-solving, innovation, and creativity in their students. This is where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) comes into play. STEM is not just about formulas and equations; it’s about igniting a lifelong love of learning and shaping the future.  

Elementary-aged students working together on a laptop in a school classroom.

Students working together on a STEM project in a school classroom. STEM education can impart critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity skills.

November 8th marks National STEM Day, an annual celebration dedicated to promoting STEM education and careers among our youth. Its origin lies in the desire to emphasize the significance of these fields and inspire students to venture into STEM-related career paths. STEM education imparts critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity—essential skills in our tech-driven world

For K-12 educators, National STEM Day presents several significant benefits: 

  • Inspiration: National STEM Day offers a platform to showcase the real-world applications of STEM concepts, from problem-solving to design thinking and teamwork, inspiring students to pursue these paths. 
  • Engagement: Engaging in STEM activities can captivate students’ interest and encourage them to explore these subjects further. Providing opportunities for relevant, empathy-driven, and genuine connections will help your students go beyond and increase their buy-in and excitement. 
  • Career exploration: National STEM Day opens doors to career opportunities students might not have considered, such as ethical hackers, LEGO® designers, app developers, or aerospace engineers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10.8% growth in STEM occupations from 2022 to 2032. 

Future ready isn’t a fad

According to the ACT 2023 Class of 2023 report, only 15% of high school graduates are ready to take college-level STEM coursework. Research shows that early exposure to STEM subjects lays the foundation for students to explore STEM careers. In fact, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas found that early science exposure not only enhances STEM skills but also boosts performance in reading, math, and critical thinking. 

Sustaining STEM exposure throughout elementary school further fuels students’ curiosity about STEM careers. As Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights activist and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, wisely said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Multiple studies confirm that early exposure increases the likelihood of students pursuing STEM majors in college. By nurturing a love for STEM at every educational stage, we pave the way for a brighter future full of endless possibilities. 

Engaging hands-on activities to celebrate National STEM Day

Minecraft Education

Minecraft Education opens doors to game-based learning across various subjects. Dive into these Minecraft STEM lessons to spark your students’ excitement for National STEM Day! 

  • In M.A.T.H. Mummy Mayhem your students in grades 3 through 5 can explore key concepts in geometry, such as shape, symmetry, and spatial reasoning while they traverse the tricky tomb and unlock the secrets. Supporting materials provide jumping-off points and further ideas to help make the most of the game in your classroom. 
  • Cyber & Digital Safety lessons empower your students to be safe online with lessons in cybersecurity, online safety, and digital citizenship aligned to Cyber.org and CSTA standards. These STEM lessons are suitable for students in grades 3 through 12, ensuring that learners of various ages can benefit from this comprehensive curriculum.  
  • Minecraft Education Computer Science Webinar for Leaders and Educators: You’re invited to join a special webinar ahead of Computer Science Education Week on November 16, which focuses on Computer Science curriculum integration best practices across grade levels, including Hour of Code. Hear from Dr. Lisa Milenkovic from Broward County on how they integrated computational thinking and expanded career opportunities in the AI-powered future for students district-wide. Register for the webinar now
  • Minecraft Artemis Missions will engage students in space science, spark interest in STEM, and help develop a lifelong love of learning. Learners will explore Newton’s Laws to design and launch a rocket, use code to navigate the Orion space capsule, and work as a team to build a survival base on the moon—meeting scientists along the way.  

Microsoft MakeCode  

Microsoft MakeCode brings computer science to life for all students with fun projects, immediate results, and both block and text editors for learners at different levels. Try some of these free MakeCode lessons and activities with your students this National STEM Day! 

  • MakeCode for Minecraft: The newest version of MakeCode in Minecraft Education has just been released with a ton of new features—including new blocks and mobs like Frogs and Tadpoles, new extensions including a Solar System simulation, and version control to help students preserve their progress.  
  • MakeCode micro:bit Science Experiments: Explore these engaging Science Experiments lessons featuring micro:bits in your classroom. These beloved classics, like the Egg drop experiment and Spoon race, are adored by students and can be modified to meet a diverse range of learners from upper elementary to high school level students. Through the lens of observation, measurement, and data analysis, students embark on hands-on, practical measurement activities while mastering the art of using the micro:bit to control and record data for their experiments.  
  • MakeCode Arcade: Making your own video games is easy with MakeCode Arcade, and all you need is a browser. These captivating activities are suitable for students in grades 3 through 12 and teach block coding skills and progress gradually to text-based programming with JavaScript and Python on the same platform. Save the Forest is a challenge where users create a game that simulates the conditions for a forest fire, and then code their fire-fighting air tanker plane to spray water and put out the flames. Code a Carnival guides students through making carnival games like Whack-the-Mole and Burstin’ Balloons. Have your students try out some of these fun coding activities to build games and play with others! 

Code a Carnival landing experience in MakeCode, showing a variety of carnival games including Whack-the-Mole, Burstin’ Balloons, and Target Blaster.

Code fun multiplayer carnival games in less than an hour with Code a Carnival from MakeCode.

Additional STEM Day activities from Microsoft

Explore these fun STEM activities for all ages to engage your students in hands-on learning experiences that spark curiosity and foster a deep appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

  • Leaps and Logs offers an array of captivating STEM activities, tailor-made for students aged 8 and older. Whether they’re up for a friendly challenge with a friend, or family member, or simply wish to test their skills against themselves, the tasks in this free and engaging game cover a wide range of STEM categories. 
  • Flip and NASA have teamed up to offer a lot of exciting activities that support STEM learning in early elementary through high school. Inspire your students to explore space, improve aeronautics, and examine Earth with this collection of resources. 
  • Microsoft Hacking STEM is a collection of affordable inquiry and project-based activities, designed to help students in elementary to high school visualize data across the STEM curriculum.  

Empowering all STEM students

Every student brings a unique set of strengths and challenges to the classroom, and Microsoft Education acknowledges this diversity and provides a suite of inclusive tools that level the playing field for STEM students with varying needs.  

Math Assistant in OneNote showing a how to start the process for solving a linear equation.

Math Assistant in OneNote offers various tools to help students understand problems, including equation reading and step-by-step explanations.

  • Math Assistant: For many students, understanding and solving math problems can be a daunting task. Math Assistant steps in as a supportive companion in STEM education. It breaks down math problems step by step, providing clarity and guidance throughout the problem-solving process. Whether it’s algebra, calculus, or statistics, Math Assistant simplifies complex equations, making math more accessible and less intimidating. 
  • Math Solver: When students encounter challenging math problems, they no longer need to feel stuck. Microsoft Math Solver is their go-to tool for tackling complex equations that STEM students may face. It provides step-by-step solutions and explanations for a wide range of math problems. From algebra and calculus to geometry and trigonometry, this tool offers clarity and guidance, helping STEM students overcome mathematical hurdles with ease.  
  • Immersive Reader: Reading math equations can be challenging, especially for students with dyscalculia or dyslexia. Immersive Reader for Math is the game-changer here. This tool goes beyond reading traditional text; it reads math equations aloud, ensuring that all STEM students have access to the content. It’s a critical support system that bridges the gap for students who may otherwise face barriers in math comprehension. 

These free STEM education tools are transformative. They empower students of all abilities to improve their comprehension of written math problems and foster independent learning. With digital Learning Tools from Microsoft Education, students can work at their own pace, ensuring that no one gets left behind in the fascinating world of STEM. 

Build your skills and confidence before National STEM Day

Discover various opportunities for educators like you to dive deeper into STEM: 

  • MakeCode Teach: Here you can find a welcoming community forum and challenges for your students that build creativity, computational thinking, and collaboration skills. 
  • Minecraft Education: Teacher Academy: This self-paced learning path shows you how to use Minecraft Education as a teaching and learning tool to support strong pedagogical practices. 
  • STEM, coding, and esports on Microsoft Learn: This learning pathway has everything you need to get started with STEM, coding, and esports. It’ll help you spark student curiosity by connecting in-class activities to the real world. 
  • Want more? Check out this blog from Microsoft Education for more Exciting STEM-focused professional learning opportunities!  

Ready to make National STEM Day an unforgettable experience for your students? Take the first step in igniting their passion for science, technology, engineering, and math. Explore these incredible resources and tools available in Microsoft Education, and embark on a journey of inspiration, exploration, and innovation. Happy National STEM Day!

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