Guidelines to facilitate the STEM Projects
We compiled a list of guidelines which might be useful for educators. As this is a wiki post, feel free to modify and add your comments and suggestions to enrich the document collaboratively.
Science Projects form an integral part of school education. As a facilitator, it’s always useful to have guidelines to mentor the participants. Construction, Collaboration and Conversation are three pillars to enable meaningful learning experience for the students in the process.
This process is iterative in nature:
E.g. Ideation (Define Problem Statement) -> Design -> Test and repeat.
The following points might be useful during the facilitation.
Ideation: Why and what are we going to do?
- Let the ideas emerge from the contexts of the students as well as their curriculum. Don’t give ready-made ideas or suggestions. (No instruction)
- Engage in group discussions (not lectures) along with students if needed to trigger some ideas.
- Discuss the problem or the phenomena that is being solved or modelled by the project.
- Connect these to the scientific concepts and topics in their curriculum.
- Debate multiple ideas for both conceptual as well as practical constraints.
- Things to encourage in them while ideating
- to be more divergent
- think creatively
- Some questions that could guide this process are:
- What problem/ phenomenon does this project solve or model? Why did you choose the project/question you will want to explore? Reflecting on motivation and choice is important. This should be a description of what the project tries to accomplish.
- What is the design of the investigation? Which materials you will you use and how you will go about implementing that?
- How will the data of the project look like?
- Does the data answer your research question? How can you tell? Are you able to anticipate any sources of error?
- Multiple entry points to start the investigations are possible. One need not start with having a refined hypothesis to be investigative as it is an iterative process.
Design/ Implementation: How are we implementing this?
- Build the project through conversations with and among the students (Collaboration and Conversation)
- Direct to sources to explore further instead of directly giving them design solutions.
- Encourage children to build things using regularly available objects at home/ school, with their hands as a team instead of procuring readily available things from the market.
- Besides actual execution/ implementation of the project, there should be ample scope for the student to discuss and understand the underlying principles. It is during the making/ building of the project that a student learns more.
- Keep iterating through the ideation and design processes.
- All through the above processes ensure students write or journal about every step.
- Students can write in their journals or blog and share the data on metastudio.org.
- It will be nice to encourage the participants to document their learning and challenges along the way and share that with the wider community to get feedback.
- Documenting mistakes, errors and exceptions is perhaps more important than merely writing about a successful outcome.
- Communicating ideas clearly helps one think deeply about the investigation.
- Encouraging participants to present the findings and demonstrate of the project helps nurture social skills as well as this becomes an opportunity for further refinement of the prototype (going back to ideation) by taking feedback from the peers and community.
- Although, a template might be useful as a guideline to showcase work the participants should be encouraged to be as creative with this presentation as with the other phases of the project. Story-telling, poster, video-documentation, activities, role-plays can all be incorporated to make the presentation more lively.
- Keeping a record of the questions posed and having a dedicated time for open-house discussion and feedback on the project can help to refine the existing work as well as generate new ideas which might be pursued later.
- Communicating the failure during the project, the learnings and challenges in the narrative form will capture the imagination of the participants.