Purple SplatGreen Splat

Elementary School Activities for Cross Curricular STEM

Olivia Jones
February 17, 2022
Share to Facebook   Share to Twitter  

It’s more important than ever that students receive a high quality STEM education! The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that STEM-related careers will grow several percentage points faster than non-STEM occupations over the next decade. STEM subjects encourage analytical thinking, problem solving, and creativity— three characteristics that make them well-suited for cross-curricular education.

What is cross-curricular STEM education?

Cross-curricular STEM education is a teaching strategy that infuses STEM concepts with core curriculum. It encourages educators to find ways to incorporate STEM education throughout the school day in unconventional ways. 

Why cross-curricular STEM education?

For students who shy away from STEM subjects, cross-curricular STEM activities can be a low-pressure way to engage with course material. It promotes adaptability, creativity, and critical thinking. Because it’s different from traditional education, it keeps students engaged. 

Cross-curricular STEM activities

Visual arts

When it comes to education, visual arts does not alway take priority. But practicing visual arts offers students a whole host of benefits, such as creativity, communication, and empathy. It also improves academic outcomes and increases student enjoyment of school.
The visual arts offer many opportunities for cross-curricular education, especially for STEM subjects, which often require strong visual and spatial learning skills. For students who have trouble conceptualizing STEM concepts in the abstract, combining those topics with visual arts activities could help things ‘click’. One study found that students whose education was supplemented with drawing lessons better retained science content. Here are a few examples of cross-curricular STEM activities with visual arts components:

Games

Gamifying education helps keep students engaged and interested in the learning process. It also offers unique benefits by letting students test their new knowledge with hands-on practice. Perhaps most importantly, it makes learning more fun. For the reluctant or disengaged student, an educational game can make a huge difference in their academic performance.

Here are a few examples of how you can use games to teach STEM across other subjects:

cross curricular STEM activity with Splats
Students using Splats to practice double-digit addition

Storytelling

It’s important that students learn the basics of storytelling. It’s the basis of effective oral communication, persuasive writing, critical thinking, debate, and literature. Thankfully, storytelling is also enjoyable and offers plenty of opportunities for creativity. Storytelling activities don’t have to be limited to English or Creative Writing classes– they also work well with STEM topics. Here are a few ideas:

  • Have students write a first-person story from the perspective of an immune cell or a planet in our solar system
  • Have students use multi-media tools like video and podcast recording, which can both be done with easily accessible technology, to create educational content for their STEM classes
  • A poetry-writing assignment about the impacts of climate change
  • Science-fair style presentations of experimental hypotheses, experiments, and results

Physical activity

Kids require physical activity to stay healthy and form good habits for adulthood. Incorporating physical activity into lessons is only becoming more important, as educators reckon with a worsening play deficit in children since the start of the pandemic. Physically active learning activities also have the benefit of keeping students engaged and making the learning process more interesting. Here are some ideas for combining physical activity and STEM education:

  • Take one of your usual STEM classroom games and convert it to a physically active version. Have students jump and dance at key points in the game
  • Challenge students to create a dance or short theatre demonstration to explain a STEM concept they’ve recently learned
  • Check out Unruly Splats, the interactive coding tool teaches students the fundamentals of coding using fun, physically active games.The games work for students of different grade levels and encourage teamwork and creativity.

Pick two

Cross-curricular STEM activities present a natural opportunity for student-led learning. Encourage students to follow their interests and explore subjects that interest them by combining a STEM topic with a non-STEM topic. That could look like:

  • Writing a paper about the role of infectious diseases and poisons in Shakespeare’s plays
  • Creating an interpretive dance about an abstract physics concept
  • Making a lesson plan to teach peers about local flora and fauna
  • Sharing an oral presentation about a memoir written by an influential doctor or scientist

The history of STEM

History is not simply an isolated subject— it’s the context by which we understand our past. When learning about any STEM subject, it’s vital to also learn about the history of important discoveries. For example, for much of our country’s history, Black Americans were barred from completing higher education and becoming scientists. It’s important that students learn about this institutional racism and the effects that it continues to have on the scientific community. This context can help them better understand the importance of representation in STEM, and the terrific achievements of those who fought to pursue their careers despite all the barriers they faced.

An activity about the history of STEM could look like:

  • A student-made documentary about Henrietta Lacks and her role in the medical research and treatment of cancer
  • A report about the development of the smallpox vaccine
  • A presentation about an important scientist in history and the nature of their discoveries

STEM education doesn’t have to be confined to STEM classes only. You can easily incorporate STEM concepts across your whole curriculum to keep students engaged and interested. For more ideas on how to incorporate cross-curricular STEM, take a look at this library full of STEM activities that are all focused around core subjects

Unruly Studios makers of Unruly Splats, programmable, stompable floor tiles that help kids learn fundamental coding skills through recess-style play. Best for elementary and middle school students from PE to science or coding class, a great addition to the classroom for active STEM coding and play!

Learn more about Unruly Splats: https://www.unrulysplats.com/
Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unruly_studios/
Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/playunrulystudios/