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7 Recommended Hands-On STEM Learning Products

Photo illustration: 7 Hands-on STEM Learning Products, with boy playing with electronics.
(Image credit: Shelley Terrell)

Learning is not a spectator sport

Arthur W. Chickering/Stephen C. Ehrmann

On this blog I’ve shared thousands of web tools, apps, and resources that are free or offer a freemium option for teachers. However, I’ve been asked by several educators what recommendations I have for STEM labs, makerspaces, and technology classes. Below are six products that engage students, promote hands-on learning, and spark creativity. Also, students of all ages love learning science, math, engineering, and programming with these products. Most are reasonably priced for a kit that can be used by an entire class for several projects and lessons. The products are easy to manage, store, and work for K to 12 learners. These products also come with a great support team, support materials, lesson plans, and activities. Even if you are just a beginner these products are easy to learn and implement. These companies did not pay me or ask me to write about them. I just have tinkered with them and truly enjoyed these products.

  • littleBits– These kits come with electronic building blocks that are easy for students to put together and come up with so many different innovations and creations. Students start by coding simple circuits then are inspired to invent with open challenges. Teachers have access to a standards-aligned curriculum. Although the kits are recommended for grades 3 to 5, I’ve used them with 2nd graders and known teachers who use them with middle school students.
  • Makey Makey-Makey Makey is an invention kit that inspires K to 12 students to transform everyday objects, like bananas and play dough, into awesome inventions. Students learn about coding, engineering, circuits, and more!
  • Sam Labs– K to 5th grade students program the small bluetooth blocks (wheels, sensors, lights, switches, fans, etc.) from the STEM kit to invent and build so many different projects. I love the curriculum materials and resources that are standards-aligned and come with easy to edit and engaging warm-ups, assessments, and slides. The curriculum walks students and teachers through the entire process of programming and building and helps them learn the science, math, and concepts behind each project.
  • Raspberry Pi– This is a low-cost, high-performance computer that students use to learn programming, solve problems, invent and innovate.
  • LEGO Education– For decades LEGO has created products that inspire PreK to 12 students to build, imagine, and invent. Now students can program and animate what they build. LEGO has several competitions throughout the year to inspire learners of all ages to solve real-world problems with their inventions.
  • Lulzbot Mini 3D printer- 3D printers can be very expensive. Some charge for their software or are expensive to fix. This 3D printer comes with free software and provides students and teachers with simple instructions on how to 3D print parts that break.
  • Hello Ruby– Many makerspaces are in libraries. Hello Ruby is a series of books that helps students understand coding and programming. The books are translated in 24 languages. The website provides teachers and learners with engaging projects and activities.

cross posted at teacherrebootcamp.com

Shelly Terrell is a Technology and Computer teacher, education consultant, and author of books including Hacking Digital Learning Strategies: 10 Ways to Launch EdTech Missions in Your Classroom. Read more at teacherrebootcamp.com.