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Supporting STEM through Design & Technology Projects

In this blog we explore what STEM is, why it's important and how to support STEM learning through D&T projects.

Posted on Friday 17th May 2024

Supporting STEM through Design & Technology

 Want to know more about supporting STEM through Design and Technology Projects? If so, in this blog we will highlight what STEM is, why it’s important and how to incorporate the STEM approach into curriculum areas such as Design and Technology.

What is STEM Learning?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. However, it’s more than just teaching these subjects in isolation. STEM is an integrated and interdisciplinary approach that mirrors real-life problem-solving. By combining science, technology, engineering, and maths, pupils learn to think critically, creatively, collaborate, and communicate. These 21st-century skills are essential for success.

Why is STEM Education Important?

STEM is important for critical thinking. It encourages higher-order thinking, such as analysing, synthesising, evaluating, and creating.

Use STEM to bring in real-world relevance and equip pupils with problem-solving skills needed for everyday challenges.

Highlight the problems professionals solve daily, and prepare children with skills needed for future careers.

An Ideal STEM Curriculum:

  • Uses an integrated approach and blends the STEM subjects seamlessly.
  • Provides hands-on learning and engages pupils with practical activities and experiments.
  • Will engage pupils with real-life contexts and relates to everyday situations.
  • It develops collaboration and encourages teamwork and communication.

Supporting STEM through Design & Technology Projects

Design and Technology (D&T) kits are hands-on learning tools that combine creativity, problem-solving, and technical skills. These kits empower pupils to explore real-world challenges, design solutions, and build functional prototypes. By integrating D&T kits into the classroom, educators can foster critical competencies necessary for STEM success.

At TTS, we have collaborated with STEM Expert, Caroline Alliston, to create our STEM class kits and activity cards. We have a variety of STEM kits available. These comprehensive kits are everything you need to deliver fun STEM lessons to your whole class. Each one comes with ‘how to’ instructions, lesson plans, activity ideas and more.

 

 Ideas for supporting STEM learning through Design and Technology Projects

Here are some D&T class kits you might like to look at:

 

 

 

Make your own Motorised Vehicles D&T Class Kit TE00778

 

 

Vehicles D&T Class Kit TE00766

Fairgrounds D&T Class Kit TE00777

Make your own Light D&T Class Kit TE00772

What did the staff and children think about the kits?

Staff thoughts

A Year 5 teacher from High Oakham Primary School, said, ‘The Crumble Kits are a great resource for bringing together the different elements of STEM. They enable children to program something that they have been challenged to construct. The children were fully engaged in their learning and liked the fact that they got the chance to make a physical resource that linked to their programming skills, along with other skills from other areas of the curriculum. An engaging hands-on approach to learning.’

Ian Marsh, the Headteacher and Computing Lead from Scarcliffe Primary commented, ‘As Computing Lead in a small primary school, the cost effective Crumble Kits have been a superb solution in ensuring that we can offer access to physical computing in our KS2 curriculum. Children have thoroughly enjoyed creating amazing projects and solving problems, such as making moving fairground rides and vehicles.  The Crumble Kits enable us to build on and support prior learning around computing coding such as Scratch. The fact that the software is free is an added bonus.’

Pupil voice

I really enjoyed working with the Crumble kits. We had to use things we had learned in Science, D&T and computing to figure out how to build a fairground ride and make it work. I would like to do more projects like this in the future.

Year 4 child, Scarcliffe Primary School

Key Learning Objectives to support STEM using the D&T Kits

Spatial Reasoning

Spatial reasoning involves envisioning objects or ideas in three dimensions. It’s essential for understanding how components relate to each other and how different parts make up a whole.

D&T kits allow children to explore spatial reasoning by working with large-scale and small-scale building components. Through hands-on activities, they develop an understanding of space, size, and relationships.

Reasoning Abstractly and Quantitatively

All children are natural designers, but they need the support of a STEM program to think like scientists and engineers.

D&T kits help children to reason both abstractly (imagining possibilities) and quantitatively (making functional designs). These skills are fundamental for mathematics and other STEM disciplines.

Problem-Solving and Creativity

D&T kits encourage pupils to identify problems, come up with solutions, and create their designs.

By experimenting with different materials, shapes, and mechanisms, they develop creative problem-solving skills.

Collaboration and Communication

Working with D&T kits often involves teamwork. Pupils learn to communicate their ideas, listen to others, and collaborate effectively.

These skills are essential for future STEM careers, where interdisciplinary collaboration is common.

Benefits of using D&T Kits

  • Engagement: D&T kits captivate imaginations, turning them from passive listeners into active creators and problem-solvers.
  • Hands-On Learning: Children learn best by doing. D&T kits provide tangible experiences that reinforce abstract concepts.
  • Real-World Relevance: D&T kits connect classroom learning to real-world applications, making STEM more meaningful.
  • Equity and Inclusion: D&T programs bridge gaps, and everyone is encouraged to work together.

 Conclusion

By introducing STEM and D&T kits early, educators empower students to become curious, creative, and confident problem-solvers. Let’s inspire the next generation of innovators and engineers through hands-on exploration!

Caroline Alliston

Our STEM expert: Caroline Alliston

At TTS, we have collaborated with STEM Expert, Caroline Alliston, to create our STEM class kits and activity cards. Caroline is a professional engineer and award-winning STEM educator, best known for her successful ‘Technology For Fun’ series of books.  After 25 years working in industry, she decided to use her knowledge and skills to develop fun, exciting design and build projects to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers. Caroline also runs hugely popular workshops for children, teachers, and STEM ambassadors.