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General Motors is Bringing STEM Tools to Innovative Teachers

Update 11/30/17: Now that the General Motors funding opportunity has wrapped up, we’re so excited to share the results. In one month, GM supported 610 teachers at 338 schools, impacting over 40,000 students. Thank you to GM and to all of the teachers who submitted projects!

It’s no secret that the number of STEM jobs is expected to grow rapidly over the next few decades. To make sure students are prepared for those jobs, they need the best STEM education our country can offer, and studies show that hands-on learning will play a major role. According to one study from the University of Chicago, “Those students who physically experience difficult science concepts learn them better, perform better in class and on quizzes the next day, and the effect seems to play out weeks later, as well.”
“I firmly believe that the more exposure I can give my students, the more likely they are to develop not only a love and passion for the sciences but also a desire to pursue a science career.” – Mrs. Freeman
In October, our friends at General Motors surprised five innovative DonorsChoose.org teachers who had posted their hands-on ideas to teach STEM. They fully-funded all of projects below, and awarded each of these teachers a $5,000 DonorsChoose.org gift card that these teachers can use to bring their most creative classroom STEM ideas to life. Now, they’re inviting teachers at high-needs schools across the country to create a project modeling those five standout requests.
“Learning through Stem” by Mrs. VanDePutte (PreK–2)
The kit was specially developed to help children think like scientists and engineers as they explore the STEM design process and solve problems—students plan, build and test their designs, then improve them until they are successful.
“Engineering Fun with STEM Materials” by Mrs. Regal (PreK–2)
I cannot think of a better way to allow my kindergarten students to stretch their imaginations than to challenge them to use their engineering and problem-solving skills with these STEM activity kits… Building roller coasters, vehicles, bridges, houses, and creating chain reactions will be such fun and highly engaging ways to practice these important, lifelong skills.
“Science Everywhere” by Mrs. Moussiaux (3–5)
Electricity is an integral part of our daily lives, but many energy sources are damaging the environment. I plan to have my students read about innovations in alternative energy sources, they will work in groups to design and build a model of a system to generate energy. Each group will then present their design to the class. Next, the students will create an alternative energy design at home with their family and keep data on energy used at home and ways to conserve energy.
“Grow Baby Grow! Growing Bacteria in Science Lab!” by Mrs. Freeman (6–8)
My students will become real scientists as they put on lab aprons, disposable gloves, goggles, and set out to find the dirtiest place in the school by collecting and growing bacteria in agar. They will spend several days creating and shaping their own investigation of where they might find the most bacteria in the school. During this time students will learn about bacteria and it’s characteristics as one of the 6 major kingdoms of living things while documenting their bacterial growth in their science journals.
“Discovering and Exploring Physical Science” by Ms. Suarez (9–12)
These investigations will help the students to study, explore, and become familiar with science concepts. My students will benefit by conducting investigations in the physical science class since they will be making connections between theory and objects and machines in daily life. The students will also be able to observe and establish relationships and correlations between science concepts.
Which of these five ideas are you excited to try out? Let us know in the comments!

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