At Jelly Bean we support interactive learning everywhere, from playing educational games on the playground, to working with STEM kits in the elementary classroom. This is backed up by our recent massive blog posts on nearly every conceivable STEM kit for science, technology, engineering, and math.
But what’s a big list without some context? That’s where Bridget Lewis comes in. As a seasoned elementary school teacher with hands-on experience in working with kids with STEM kits, we thought there is no better person to help show us the cream of the crop when it comes to STEM kits. Take it away Bridget.
It is an especially exciting time to be in the classroom for students and teachers. With the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) lessons have become even more hands on and exploratory.
Gone are the days of worksheets and memorization. No longer do kids sit at their desks struggling to stay awake. My classroom doesn’t even have desks! In my classroom, textbooks are on I-pads and classes are taught in blocks: 10 minutes of entry work/review, 15 minutes of group instruction, and then stations which include a check-in with me (the teacher), a project or experiment based on the unit of study, or time with one of the classroom STEM kits.
Students especially love the STEM kits and approach this time with the same enthusiasm they do recess and Phys Ed. Some of the students favorite STEM kits are Snap Circuits, Jr., Ozobot Evo, and Bloxels.
Snap Circuits Jr.
Snap Circuits Jr. is an easy to use kit to teach electrical engineering. Students follow visual, color coded instructions in a manual, snap together different pieces in the correct order, and make working electric switches, propellers, and more. It is a safe way to explore how electricity moves in a circuit.
What I love about Snap Circuits Jr. is watching the kids work together, problem solve, help each other and react with enthusiasm when their project works. Do they fully comprehend the electrical engineering concepts? Probably not. Do they think science is awesome? Definitely.
Ozobot Evo is a golf ball sized robot that, through its sensors, moves around responding to lines drawn on a piece of paper. An optical sensor can detect the color of ink and will follow along a black line or speed up when it hits a blue line. You can also use Google’s Blockly visual editor to write programs and load them to the robot through the app.
What I like about the Ozobot Evo, like Snap Circuits, Jr., is it encourages creativity and problem solving. Students have different strengths and working together they come up with solutions and creative uses for the Ozobot Evo.
I love Bloxels. The Bloxels I love is the one where you use the game board and colored blocks to design a video game (characters, background), then using the Bloxel app, snap a picture and use your creation to design and build a video game. You no longer need the game board and blocks and can just use the Bloxel app to make a story and build a video game.
The Bloxel game board and app is good for the kiddo who likes to work alone. They still get the thrill of creating with technology but can stay within their mode of learning. Usually these kids still enjoy showing their finished product to me or one of their classmates.
What I like about all these classroom STEM kits are they get the students moving their bodies, working together, and problem solving. All the kits are relatively inexpensive and in the case of Bloxels free if you only use the App. They all have extended resources (lessons/activities) for teachers on their websites.
Time to plan and develop lessons is always a problem for me but with these STEM kits the students can jump right in and figuring it out is part of the learning!
About Bridget Lewis
Has been teaching writing professionally for over two decades, with over ten years experience in finance and a passion for health and science. Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Education.