Next-Level STEM Challenges – Use the Design Thinking Process to Develop STEM Skills in the Classroom

When I was in 3rd grade my friends and I built a bike ramp in the ditch behind our houses.  We were makers.

In 8th grade, my best friend and I would spend dozens of hours building Estes rockets so that we could launch them at a nearby park.  We were makers.

In 10th grade, we would all gather around the one computer in our house to tinker day and night on bulletin board services (BBS’s, pre-internet).  Our imaginations would run wild with possibilities.  We were makers.

In 12th grade, I took a computer programming class. My first product was a two-dimensional star that I drew with just a few lines of code. I was a maker.

Last year, I designed a series of science-themed board games for my classes to use to review.   was a maker.

Making Doesn’t Have to Happen in a Makerspace

In each one of the stories my creative side was exploring what I could design, build, and make.  As I was making things I was never thinking about the space in which they were made.

I love the concept of makerspaces, but I hope the message we are communicating to students is not one that they need a maker space in order to be a maker.  Students can be makers in any classroom, in any grade level, and in any subject.

My good friends AJ Juliani and John Spencer have created The Launch Cycle to bring design thinking into every aspect of K-12, and to let every teacher know that any student can be a maker.

Watch this quick video to get a better understanding of the launch cycle.

Getting All Students Involved With Design Challenges and Maker Projects

Below are some FREE resources to get your students involved in the maker process.

AJ and John have also created FIVE comprehensive lessons that will walk your students through the Launch Cycle Process.

Each highly-engaging lesson challenges students to think about design and STEM as an entire learning process.  The challenges are brilliantly written, and students are able easily follow along each step of the way.

What’s Included In Each Challenge?

1.   High-Quality Video Introducing Each Project – Capture Students Immediately

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2.  Complete PowerPoint Which Leads Students Through the Process (Keynote and PDF also included) – Thought Provoking Questions Which Will Act as a Guide

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3.  Complete Teacher Lesson Plan – No Uncertainties and VERY Little Prep
Launch Cycle Teacher Lesson Plan

4.  Complete Student Guide For Each Project – Step by Step Project Guide for Students

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When Would I Use These In My Classroom?

These lessons can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom.  Below are just a few ideas of where they would fit nicely into your class.

  • They can be used as an extension for early finishers.  Kids are going to be super excited to work on these projects and won’t feel punished with additional busy work
  • The challenges are great for the beginning of the year when you are working on building a class culture.
  • These lessons can be used during an advisory period or after school program.  They are designed so the teacher can become a facilitator.  Students will control the learning process.
  • These would also be a great fit before a long break of after a large unit.
  • The lessons could be used as a reward for persevering through difficult content in your class.
  • These challenges work hand in hand with many of the STEM standards from your curriculum.  They are a fantastic alternative to many of overused and vanilla-flavored STEM challenges you’ll find on the internet.

Bundle and Save

Heads up…you’ll save $25 if you buy the entire bundle.  Otherwise, you can buy them each individually. Enjoy!

Global Day of Design

On April 26, AJ and John are having the first ever Global Day of Design where teachers and students from around the world focus on how they can make, build, design, and launch projects and products with/without a maker space.

There are over 100 classrooms signed up and over 5000 students ready to participate in the Global Day of Design. I hope that you’ll join them for this awesome event meant to engage and empower all students to make.