Everyone knows what STEAM stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. And odds are, most teachers can easily define the S, E, A, and M elements. But what exactly defines “technology”? Is your computer “technology”? How about your cell phone? What about an old-fashioned phone booth? Your grandfather's Oldsmobile? Horse and buggy? Stone tools? Where does it end?!
In fact, the term technology encompasses any tool, object, skills, or practice related to humanity’s continual attempts to modify the natural world. Under the umbrella of technology lies a wide range of learning that’s not only highly practical, but also hands-on and physically engaging.
The following top technology lessons and activities span a diversity of teaching resources, from DIY websites to coding to physics. Most are free or low-cost, and all are easily accessible to classroom teachers.
Best Technology Lessons and Activities
TEDEd Technology Videos
TEDEd’s collection of technology-focused video lessons features a wide variety of topics, from the heaviest, such as “The 4 greatest threats to the survival of humanity,” to lighter fare, such as “How to get better at video games, according to babies.” One consistency across the TEDEd platform is compelling experts presenting fascinating and novel ideas, sure to engage viewers. Though you may not assign “How to practice safe sexting” to your students, it’s good to know they can find it if they need to.
Share my Lesson Free Technology Lessons
Free technology lessons designed, implemented, and rated by your fellow educators. Searchable by grade, subject, type, rating, and standards, these lessons run the gamut from “The Advancements of Battery Technology” to “Technology: Then and Now” to “Jazz Technology.”
The Music Lab
An unusual site dedicated to investigating all aspects of music, The Music Lab features games to test users’ listening ability, musical IQ, world music knowledge, and more. Results compiled from these games will contribute to Yale University’s musical research. No account setup required, so all participation is anonymous.
Physics for Kids
Underlying all technology are the laws of physics, which govern everything from subatomic particles to massive human-built structures such as the International Space Station. Fortunately, you don’t need an advanced physics degree to navigate this easy-to-use site, which provides dozens of lessons, quizzes, and puzzles about physics topics. Lessons are divided into seven major areas and include images, audio, and links to further inquiry.
Spark 101 Technology Videos
Developed by educators in collaboration with employers and experts, these brief videos explore technology topics from a practical perspective. Each video focuses on real-world problems and solutions that students might encounter in technology careers. Lesson plans and standards are provided. Free account required.
Instructable K-20 Projects
Technology is about making things—from electrical circuits to jigsaw puzzles to Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Bars (cookies are a product of technology, too). Instructables is a wonderful free repository of step-by-step lessons to make almost anything imaginable. Bonus for education: Search projects by grade, subject, popularity, or prizewinners.
Best Free Hour of Code Lessons and Activities
Turn “Hour of Code” into “Year of Code'' with these top free coding and computer science lessons and activities. From games to unplugged computer science to secrets of encryption, there’s something for every grade and student.
Seek by iNaturalist
A gamified identification app for Android and iOs that combines technology with the natural world in a kid-safe environment, Seek by iNaturalist is a great way to get students excited about and involved with nature. Includes PDF user guide. Want to go deeper? Explore the Teacher’s Guide on Seek’s parent site, iNaturalist.
Daisy the Dinosaur
An enjoyable introduction to coding by the creators of Hopscotch. Kids use the drag-and-drop interface to make Daisy do her dinosaur dance while they learn about objects, sequencing, loops, and events.
A multiple-award-winning, standards-aligned coding platform featuring fun-loving animated characters who will have kids engaged and learning coding from the start. Remarkably, the word-free interface means even pre-verbal youngsters can learn coding. Free for public schools in North America.
The Tech Interactive at Home
Although aimed at home-schooled children, this DIY educational site is perfect for in-school instruction as well. Using inexpensive, readily available materials, teachers can guide students in learning about biology, physics, engineering, art, and more. Best of all, everything is hands-on, enabling kids to take ownership of their learning.
15 Apps and Sites for Augmented Reality
Whether simple or sophisticated, these mostly-free augmented reality apps and websites provide an excellent opportunity to pair real learning with cutting-edge technology.
Best 3D Printers For Education
Considering adding a 3D printer to your school’s tech toolbox? Our roundup of the best 3D printers for education looks at the pros and cons of the most popular models—as well as pointing readers to the best deals available right now.
The University of Colorado Boulder’s acclaimed STEM simulation site is one of the longest-running and best free technologies to explore physics, chemistry, math, earth science, and biology. PhET is easy to start using but offers the ability to go deeper into topics as well. Be sure to check out the dedicated education section for ways to integrate PhET simulations into your STEM curriculum. Want to go further in online tech? Delve into the best online virtual labs and STEAM-related interactives.