Using Many Teaching Styles for STEM Learning

Over the past week at the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, both the 7th graders and 8th graders have done a variety of activities that appealed to various learning styles. The 7th graders learned about flight controls by seeing a demonstration using the flight simulator, and they will be practicing the use of flight controls on their next missions. They have also been learning about simple machines in a hands-on lab, and relating these machines to the way flight controls work on an airplane. The 8th graders concluded a unit on rockets that tied in with the current science unit on force, impulse, and Isaac Newton’s laws of motion. They did two virtual design projects: One was to design the space propulsion system to take astronauts, equipment, and supplies to Mars, and the other was to design a method of diverting a large asteroid from hitting our planet. To wrap up this unit, they had quizzes that were essay based and which gave some choice on how they could write their answers. Technical writing is a life skill, and we do regular writing exercises in the academy. Finally, in geometry the 8th graders also had a chance to be artistic and use geometric constructions to make a picture, which had to be accompanied by a one-page essay explaining it. In all these lessons, different students with various learning styles have had a chance to learn the way they like best. One of my 8th graders summarized how this all works in a recent feedback session:

“In the academy, I’ve liked what has been going on. The course content is not only interesting and diverse between the units, but the way it is being taught through different ways such as lecture, project, presentation, and lab or engineering project makes coming here a lot of fun…The only thing I’d say to keep the academy courses fun and new is keep up diversity in the lessons. It’s a lot of fun learning something new and different in a different way every day, and even though one student might not like one lesson one day, he/she is more than likely to like another lesson another day.”

Here are some photos of the 7th graders doing a simple machines lab:


Here are the 8th graders writing – and they write very well:


Finally, here is one of the 8th grade geometry art projects:


Author: Bryan Holmes, Physics & Math Teacher, STEM Competition Mentor

Starting at Thomaston High School in Thomaston, Connecticut, in fall of 2018.

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