Lesson Plans

Bring STEM Into Your Curriculum

How often do your students ask, “How will I use this in real life?”

After becoming a Kenan Fellow, I gained many useful ideas from classroom setup to integrating STEM during and after school. My internship at IBM provided me with several resources to give students a global view of how their future careers affect the world.

To show my students how to use math and science, I use time after and during school to demonstrate the possibilities they have for their future involving STEM. After partnering with parents and members of the community, I have created my schools first Robotics Club and I facilitate the Data Science Seminar once a week. Please use this site as a resource to help guide your endeavors of using STEM in the classroom.

Author: Tamiko Williams


Content Area
  • Math
  • Science
  • Technology

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Model Organisms: The Genes We Share

Why spend millions of dollars and countless hours studying worms, yeast, fish, and mice? These creatures look and act so differently from us, yet we are more related than you may think. In this unit, students explore the structure and function of DNA, discover our relatedness to other organisms, learn the characteristics of the ideal model organism, and create trading cards that summarize why model organisms are important in scientific research.

Author: Anna Glasgow


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Science

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Building for Future Severe Weather – A Design Thinking Approach

Over a period of two days, students will complete a design challenge centered around sustainable exterior building products that are designed for high performance during severe hailstorms. This lesson uses Design Thinking as a framework for students to learn how climate change is impacting more than just the environment. Manufacturers of roofing, siding, and windows are taking this into consideration when designing new exterior building products. The culminating activity in this lesson will be a product designed by students to withstand severe hail.

Author: Leslie Horne


Content Area
  • Earth Science
  • Science

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Camp Snoopy Redesign

Scenario: Carowinds is redesigning Planet Snoopy (a kids’ play area in the theme park) for the upcoming season, and this is the students’ opportunity to provide input and submit a design to enhance the kids’ section of the park.

Lesson: Students will work in groups of 3-4 to create a Planet Snoopy exhibit (3-D model and map). The purpose of the Planet Snoopy redesign is to demonstrate how sound and the size of the rides affects an amusement park’s design. Students will take on the role of architects.

Author: Jilly Barclay


Content Area
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

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Is U.S. Air Pollution Getting Better or Worse – How and Why?

In this project, students will be assigned one of 4 regions of the United States – Northeast, South, Midwest, or West. Within each regional group, every student will be assigned one of 5 criteria pollutants (lead is excluded, in part because airborne lead has been well controlled for several decades now, but also because the history of lead pollution is used as a project launch). The project begins with each student being tasked to become an “expert” in his/her pollutant (Task 1).

Once each group has an expert for each pollutant, the group moves to the second stage of the project – to create an “Air Quality Measure” that is based upon the five criteria pollutants (Task 2). No formula is offered – the groups are free to construct this formula in a way that seems right to them based on the expert knowledge of the pollutants in each group. This task culminates with the groups generating a data set for this new air quality measure, based on the actual pollutant data from EPA.

Author:  Bill Worley


Content Area
  • Earth Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Science

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I Like to Move It Move It!

Students create exercise/play equipment for a “pet-themed” playground based on animals that they have chosen and researched. Students will have an opportunity to move through Active Brain Lab stations that are designed with 2 different animals in mind (dog and frog). They will be focused on understanding the differences between the two different animals and how they move. A special emphasis will be put on being able to appropriately use movement vocabulary to describe how the animal will move as each is using the exercise equipment.

Students will then complete research about their chosen animal. Students will need to research their animal’s size and capabilities, and how they meet their basic needs; more specifically, how the animal moves within its habitat. Then, students will create a toy/exercise equipment that could be used at the “pet playground”. Finally, students will develop a presentation about their animal and the “pet playground” equipment to present to peers and invited guests.

Author: Emily Warnke


Content Area
  • Science

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GRIDc: Solar Energy Virtual Learning Experience

During this lesson, students are guided through an initial understanding of electrical energy and production. As their learning progresses, they will explore energy production using photovoltaics (PVs) and use the National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL) online simulator, PVWatts. The synthesis of this information will result in a basic understanding of the economics of solar energy production. Secondary students will
continue their research by accessing their state’s energy portfolio through the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Students will synthesize what they have learned and apply Design Thinking Skills to create a Solar Charging Station or a model Electric Car.

Author: David Sander


Content Area
  • Physics
  • Science

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Theme Park Thrills

This project helps students understand force, motion and the relationship between them. Student teams are challenged to help Carowinds create a new, fun themed zone with rides.  Teams will create a 3D model of one of their themed rides. A ride list, zone map, and radio advertisement will also be created and used to present their created zone.  The best in 5th grade will be determined using a rubric and Carowinds visitors and school administration.

Teams of students will present their final ride list, a zone map, model ride, and radio advertisement to their peers, parents and special guests from the school and Carowinds.  Each team will be ranked based on specific criteria by the special guests and a winning theme park will be selected based on the highest score.

Author: Michelle McElhiney


Content Area
  • Physics
  • Science

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The Delicate Science of Making Food to Please the World

In this lesson, students will apply the scientific method—using N-P-K soil test kits on a local farm—to develop a real-world application of how abiotic factors, like nitrogen, can impact the rate of photosynthesis, protein synthesis, and the cost of the food we eat.  

Author: Will Edwards


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Science

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Candy and Cichlids: Exploring Dichotomous Keys

This lesson allows students to take on the role of real scientists, as they identify species from one another. Dr. Reade Robert’s lab research focuses especially on Lake Malawi Cichlids, which are some of the most colorful of the Family Cichlidae. There are more than 1,600 described species of cichlids, worldwide, and they comprise one of the largest vertebrae families on Earth. In Lake Malawi alone, there are at least 700 species, with more being discovered and estimates of as many as 1,000 species in the lake. It is the ninth largest lake in the world and has more species of fish than any other lake.

Author: Linda Dion


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Science

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Peace and Quiet: A Sound Energy PBL Exploration

The purpose of this project is for students to solve an authentic problem in their community (the school). Teachers should help students identify a problem area in the school that gets much too noisy (e.g. the cafeteria). The lack of acoustic absorption leads to sounds reverberating and amplifying. Because of the noise level, students may be punished with silent lunch. Is it possible to make a positive change before it even becomes a problem?

Students are posed with this problem as the basis of their learning. “How can we use our understanding of sound energy to create sound absorbing materials?” Throughout the course of the unit, students will learn through lectures, guided studies of videos and articles, and hands-on investigations. Students will also be given ample time to work in their groups of 3-4 to create technology that will lower the volume of sound in a room.

Author: Philip Carey


Content Area
  • Science

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Magnetic Variables!

This is a two-day lesson that incorporates direct instruction about variables with a hands-on experiment for students to conduct. The lesson teaches students about variables and how they contribute to the results of an experiment or process. To introduce students to variables, they will make paper airplanes to understand independent and dependent variables, as well as control groups. The lesson also integrates what students already know about magnets and magnetism with an experiment on day two. Groups of students will change different variables in a magnetic slime recipe.

Then as a class, they will compare the magnetism, viscosity, and other elements of the slime to see how changing the different variables affects the slime. Students will learn how to document their process and assess the data at the end of the experiment. To assess understanding, students will complete an assessment, demonstrating their knowledge of experimental design and variables.

Author: Carson Anderson


Content Area
  • Science

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10 Easy Steps for Starting a S.T.E.M. Club

Have you ever wondered how we can introduce elementary students to as much STEM curriculum as possible? Do you wish you could get help from the outside world? As a 5th grade teacher interested in preparing my students for their future, the idea of participating in the Kenan Fellows Program was incredibly appealing to me. I was looking for ways to professionally advance as well as learn new techniques for reaching today’s tech savvy generation. My year as a Kenan Fellow has helped me create a plan to do just that. By combining modules created by IBM in addition to collecting school-centric activities, I have created a curriculum to walk even the most hesitant educator through hosting a STEM club at their school. Not only will your students develop collaboration and problem solving skills through learning the design thinking process, but they will also learn to approach the solving of globally relevant problems from a STEM lens. In addition to the resources provided through my internship at IBM, I have curated a collection of lessons from fellow educators that will help you run a successful STEM club.

Author: Megan Peterson


Content Area
  • Engineering
  • Math
  • Science
  • Technology

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Over fishing and Aquaculture

Students will be able to explain why overfishing has occurred in our oceans, describe the effects of overfishing on fish stocks, and create a plan to manage overfishing. Students will be able to graph changes in a population over time. Students will create a visual public service poster,  set a purpose, consider audience and develop focused ideas for a specific purpose and exhibit personal style, voice, and design to enhance the written informational content.

Author: Stephanie Titzel


Content Area
  • Agriculture
  • Science

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Cichlid Sex Determination – A DNA POGIL

POGIL is an acronym for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning.  POGIL is a tool that allows for the simultaneous teaching of core content and higher-order thinking skills.  This lesson includes content regarding DNA structure and storage in the cell, as well as its use in coding for proteins, and thereby determining phenotype.  Models are based on data and procedures used in the Roberts lab at NC State University.  Two possible timelines for implementation are provided.

Author
April Bernier


Content Area
  • Biology
  • Science

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